I think this will be the most modern film on the list. And in terms of exciting action films, this is when Korean cinema comes of age.
Let’s consider the ingredients. Take 3 of Korea’s best actors. Add one of their, in my opinion, top 3 directors. Take the model of the great Spaghetti Westerns. Transfer it to 1940’s Manchurian China (does that not make it an ‘Eastern’?).
Mix together with more money than had ever been pumped into a Korean film before, and what do you get?
Genius. “The Good The Bad The Weird” is cinematic gold.
The films quality is on a par with anything you might get out of an American film. It looks fabulous – but then you expect that with Kim Ji-Woon at the helm. The film rumbles on from set piece to set piece never letting up. It must look amazing at the cinema on a big screen.
The actors are top notch: Jung Woo-Sung is probably the slightest as the “Good”, a rather ethereal bounty hunter; Lee Byung-Hun plays a devilishly good turn as the “Bad”, a rather nasty mercenary; and of course our friend Song Kang-Ho is the “Weird”, a petty robber (except he is so much more than that), who provides us with most of the humour and whom the story follows most of all.
Criticisms? Well I have seen people complain that the story is rather paper thin – but then I think that is the nature of these films. This is a chase movie, with three groups chasing after a Hitchcock-ian Macguffin (although when we do find out what they are chasing after it is not a true Macguffin – it actually provides an interesting ironic footnote – what they are looking for is VERY valuable – but completely useless to them).
Also, it is a very MALE movie – there are a few female characters, and they are very slightly used, and to be honest a little clichéd. But again – isn’t that a classic Spaghetti Western?
But, these minor criticisms aside, this is a wonderful film. I don’t know if I would come back to it again and again – but if you are scared of subtitles, and you like a rollickingly good action movie – start here.