Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Good, the Bad, the Weird (2008) - ActionFest Buffet: Plate #1

On the Menu: THE GOOD, THE BAD, THE WEIRD (2008)

Ingredients: Kang-ho Song, Byung-hun Lee, Woo-sung Jung and Dal-su Oh. Directed by Ji-woon Kim. Run time: 130 minutes. Rated: Not rated.

At First Bite: Back on July 31 of last year, my friend Brandin asked me if I had seen this movie. I had not. Enter ActionFest.

The first and only film festival devoted to action movies kicked off in Asheville, NC (April 15-18, 2010). This intriguing flick was on the schedule, and it became the first I decided to see.

THE GOOD, THE BAD, THE WEIRD is set in 1930s Manchuria. The Bad, Park Chang-yi (Lee), is a hired gun sent to steal a "treasure" map from the Japanese. The Weird, Yoon Tae-goo (Song), stumbles upon the map first. The Good, Park Do-won (Jung), is a bounty hunter looking for The Bad and the map.

The map itself is said to hold the key to winning World War II, but The Weird believes it to be a run-of-the-mill treasure map that will help him retire from his bandit ways and purchase a farm.

Eventually, a group of Chinese bandits and the Japanese army join in the search for the map, and all hell breaks loose.

Tough to Swallow: Sometimes the subtitles are hard to read. White words over golden sand or a white, cloudy sky doesn't really work.

The end is a little lackluster.

Something to Chew On: Theater audience = 35. I recognized the voice of one of the guys sitting behind me. He was in 2 or 3 of my film classes at NC State, and actually wrote movie reviews for The Technician.

THE GOOD, THE BAD, THE WEIRD premiered at the Cannes Film Festival on May 24, 2008.

The film is, of course, inspired by Sergio Leone's THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY.

To date, it is the most expensive South Korean ever made with a budget of over $17 million.

The film took more than two years to produce, and was mainly shot in Manchuria, Mongolia and Vladivostok.

You may recognize The Weird. Song also plays the lead roles in THE HOST and THIRST.

Jung broke his arm during filming.

The film currently has a 7.4 user rating on IMDb.com (4,430 votes).

Aftertaste: This movie is pure entertainment. It's fast-paced with lots of action. My favorite scenes include the opening train robbery, the rooftop shootout and the epic desert chase near the end, which is full of explosions, gunfire and horses. Seriously, most of the stunts are wowing. I sat through the credits, but missed the end credit disclaimer about animals (of course, that's normally an American Humane Association thing). I find it hard to believe no horses were hurt in the crazy desert scenes.

The sets look great and the cinematography is breath-taking.

The Weird will probably be everyone's favorite character. He's the comical, chubby guy, who is still pretty handy with a gun. Personally, I like The Bad; he's stylish and sometimes only needs a piercing look to get his point across. The Good might be the weakest character, but it's hard to hate on the one who is patterned after Clint Eastwood. The backstory involving The Weird and The Bad is a nice touch.
Oh, and the grandma is hilarious.

The end might not be the payoff you expect after 2 hours, but that ridiculous 2-hour ride you took to get there makes up for it.


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