Thoughts on The Good, The Bad, The Weird

Friday, June 25, 2010 8:43 PM By Simon

-Let me just say, I am easily impressed. Generally, I can find some sort of enjoyment in some of the shittiest films. That being said, The Good, The Bad, The Weird is kind of amazing.

-From Wikipedia: "The background to the film is the desert wilderness of 1930s Manchuria. The Bad (a bandit and hitman) is hired to acquire a treasure map from a Japanese official traveling by train. Before he can get it, however, The Weird (a thief) steals the map, and is caught up in The Bad's derailment of the train (complete with slaughter of Japanese and Manchurian guards, and various civilians). The Good (an eagle-eyed bounty hunter) appears on the scene to claim the bounty on The Bad. Meanwhile The Weird escapes, eluding his Good and Bad pursuers (and a third force, a group of Manchurian bandits who also want the map) to the Ghost Market. Here he hopes to uncover the map's secrets and recover what he believes is gold and riches buried by the Qing Dynasty just before the collapse of their government. As the story continues, an escalating battle for the map occurs, with bounties placed on heads, and the Imperial Japanese Army racing to reclaim its map as it can apparently "save the Japanese Empire".

-I imagine Mike at You Talking To Me? would quite like this. The action sequences are beautifully shot and executed, with high-angle crane/tracking shots, steady cam (blessed is it) during faceoffs and gun battles, so you can see it all go down. What's more, the action somewhat reflects the characters, and who their opponent is. The Weird's sequences, for example, are kind of spontaneous, wild and flailing and comical. The Bad's are a bit sadistic and brutal, The Good's are short and expert. They all have their own way of cocking their guns, riding their horses (or motorcycles), interrogating, all that. The penultimate battle, a maybe-10 minute chase involving the Manchurian and Japanese armies, the bandits, and the eponymous three, is fucking epic.

-You know what I hate about these movies that have us belief these characters are of any semi-ancient time, filthy bandits and marauders who can't be bothered for a bath a year? The teeth is always a giveaway. Brushing one's teeth was barely heard of in metropolitan America, much less rural Russian-Chinese border countries, and yet our ya-rugged heroes have these blinding white teeth. Such a giveaway.

-And yet, this is maybe the best neo-western of our much-yearning era. Where everyone talks with their guns and the smoke of their cigarettes, where anyone can get shot, tension builds in the blinding sun, Mexican standoffs abound, and treasure maps motivate even the nobelist outlaws. So what if its in Korean (and Chinese. And Japanese...)?

-Reprieve: Dong-jin from Mr. Vengeance vs Storm Shadow from GI Joe! And, uh, Jeong-woo from Athena: Goddess of War...

-The Weird, I think, is code for Neutral. I mean, he has no qualms with killing men who get in his way, but is surprisingly noble when it comes to children, especially the latter half.

-Also, maybe a dirfect homage to The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly in the end, and in the character of The Good (duh).

-Snappy suits and fedoras abound.

-Oh, Man-gil...


Matt-suzaka said...

Keep speaking Korean, baby. GBW is a great film, with amazing action sequences, some of cinemas best actors as well as one of the best directors. Kim Ji-woon did another film, A Bittersweet Life, which stars "The Bad," Byung-hun Lee, and is simply a fantastic film. I watched it for the first time last year, and since have watched it four times. Gold.

June 25, 2010 at 10:41 PM
SugaryCynic said...

i really really want to see this but haven't gotten ahold of it, good to know it will be worth my troubles :D

June 26, 2010 at 5:25 AM
Alex said...

I love this movie so much, for real. Song Kang-ho is the BEST, and that final chase at the end is one of the most impressive scenes ever in an action film.

June 26, 2010 at 7:54 AM
D Swizzle said...

Who is that hot piece of asian ass on the right hand corner? I'd tap that.

June 26, 2010 at 11:44 AM
Simon said...

Matt: I'll add it to my growing roster of must-see Asian cinema.

Sugary: Tis.

Alex: He is the best, and I'd wager to say it's the best chase scene ever.

Danielle: That's The Bad. He's bad.

June 26, 2010 at 12:02 PM
Darren said...

It is an amazing film. I love Westerns and have a fondness for Eastern cinema, so this was like Christmas for me. Love the ending. A perfect deconstruction of Leone's tropes (which arise, in part, as a deconstruction of the Western itself).

June 28, 2010 at 12:53 AM