The Good, The Bad, and The Weird
aka Joheunnom nabbeunnom isanghannom
Directed by Kim Ji-woon
Written by Kim Ji-woon and Kim Min-suk
The Good, the Bad, and the Weird is the best Korean movie I have seen in years. There was a point a few years ago where Korea was the darling of the cult movie lover’s heart. Korea produced more good films a month than certain places (like Hong Kong at the time) made all year. From about 1998 until 2005, South Korea was supreme as far as Asian film was concerned. Then Korea started to falter. Movies became less good, budgets became smaller, the market became flooded with inferior products from the boom years, and the government let more foreign films into theaters. Other Asian film markets started to climb out of their slumps, and now the whole region is more competitive. Only a few great gems come out of Korea each year now, and this is one of the brightest.
From the title alone, you can guess where much of the influence comes from. The Good, the Bad, and the Weird borrows from Sergio Leone westerns in style and basic character archetypes, moving the setting to 1930′s Manchuria and allowing the influences of the Indiana Jones films. The stylization creates a universe of its own, sucking you in and taking you along for the ride. The action is non-stop, the only pauses are just to set up even bigger and more exciting action sequences.
With a budget of 20 billion won (US $15.43 million) it still lost money even with the year best ticket sales of 6.68 million tickets (at 10,000 won ($7.70) each, that should be 66.9 billion won, so something isn’t adding up even if they lose half the money to the theater owners.) Maybe someone with more knowledge of film costs in South Korea can enlighten me, but until then, we’ll just be confused. Just dub this thing and drop it off at Blockbuster, it will make money in a week. Of course, this assumes this ever shows up in America, as the track record for movies like this is that they disappear for years and everyone who wanted to see it gets it by other means… EDIT: I wrote this several months before it appeared on site, and since then a limited theatrical release was announced.
Star Wreck: In the Pirkinning
Directed by Timo Vuorensola
Written by Samuli Torssonen, Rudi Airisto, and Jarmo Puskala
Official site: StarWreck.com
From the icy depths of Finland comes a surprise, and I’m not talking about the country’s defined border after the Treaty of Tartu. This is something that’s actually interesting, and fulfills one of the long held dreams of Star Trek nerds everywhere. No, not the dream involving Counselor Troi, Jadzia Dax, and a pool filled with lime jello. The one where Star Trek and Babylon 5 fight to the death!
How do we get this dream? Thanks to the free fan film Star Wreck: In the Pirkinning, available at StarWreck.com.
Similar to the previously reviewed Star Wars Revelations, except it’s a full-length movie, and is by far the best fan film ever made, bar none. Does that mean it’s perfect? Of course not! Minor limitations include the fact it’s direct out of Finland, which means it is in Finnish, so it requires subtitles for people like me who have Finnish around number 37 on their list of languages to be learned. Therefore, several jokes fly right over my head, and most non-Finnish people’s heads. Though that would probably explain a few random things, overall, the quality of the film more than makes up for the language barrier.
Most of the effects were done on some home computers, with actors filmed in front of a makeshift blue screen and sets drawn around them. There are also outdoor shots and a few real sets, this also allows lots of extras to be seen during some of the outdoor shots. The entire process is really amazing, taking seven years to complete (and even revolving reshooting scenes as the actors and effects got better and better.) The result is one of the best looking fan films, and one that really catapulted fan films to a bigger audience. Sure, there were a few groups already making their own series, but other fan productions gained new publicity when people searched for similar work. We’ll visit some of those other fan productions in due time.
When I first wrote this review, the only available film was Star Wreck: In the Pirkinning, the numerous older films made by the crew were mentioned in passing but not available. Boy how things have changed! You can now order a DVD with all of the other films! Star Wreck: In the Pirkinning is the sixth film in the series. The others are Star Wreck I, Star Wreck II – The Old Shit, Star Wreck III – Wrath of the Romuclans, Star Wreck IV – The Kilpailu, and Star Wreck V: Lost Contact. Star Wreck V was the first film to use live action actors, the other films were done with cartoon characters. Check them out!
In addition, there are now two versions of Star Wreck: In the Pirkinning. We’re reviewing the version released on the internet for free in 2005, but there is a special edition (the Imperial Edition) done for a DVD release where all the visual effects are redone. The most noticeable difference is that all the starships are redesigned into a more “Russian” look. At the end of the review I’ve added in the wallpapers of the new ships so you can see what they look like
Scotty, beam me into this recap! Read more…
Gonggoi: The Beast
Directed by Jaroongsak Vonglaueng
An example of Thai horror from their very numerous killer monsters/spirits genre (combining both!) we get a killer gorilla with glowing red eyes named Kong Koy (spelled Gongoi in the title, but what are you going to do?) that is the ghost of the previous owners of a monkey statue that are driven to kill to regain ownership of said statue. Thus the film gets filled with stupid teenagers who die, but not enough other people die. The long dragging in the beginning followed by lots of padding throughout the film stretch the running time and make it feel like a three-hour long film, and not in a good way. For those of us who just want to see red-eyed monkeys killing teenagers, we get what we want, but have to put up with a lot of annoyances to get to it.
I could not identify who actors/actresses Pongsakorn Srijun or Sarus Lao Utaiwattana were, and was unable to identify any of the others. So another incomplete filmography thanks to me not being able to ready every language on the planet.
Gehara: The Dark and Long Hair Monster
aka Chohatsu Daikaiju Gehara aka Long-Haired Giant Monster: Gehara
Directed by Kiyotaki Taguchi
Gehara is a made for TV short that is the brainchild of cult entertainer Jun Miura, who wrote the screenplay. Special effects guru Shinji Higuchi supervised production on the short film, and it was directed by Kiyotaka Taguchi (who also did the independent kaiju film G.) It aired on Japan’s NHK network in February 24th, 2009. It hit the internet thanks to a Japanese YouTube-like site, and thus TarsTarkas.NET was able to watch it.
A Hong Kong Girls with Guns film, starring mainstay Yukari Oshima as well as costars Dick Wei and Phillip Ko. Directed by the infamous Godfrey Ho (though there are rumors that this Godfrey Ho was just a pseudonym for Phillip Ko!) and some random guy named Chris Li. This film followed in the wake of the Angels films and is filled with lots of action thrown together with a cops and triads plot where women beat up and shoot lots of dudes. The fad produced a great deal of these films before the market moved on to other things. So here’s one of them. It’s not the best, it’s not the worst, it just is. And some days, isn’t that enough?
Angel’s Mission is also known as Xian fa zhi ren, as well as Born to Fight, Buddha’s Justice, Kicking Buddha, and Sin faat jai yan. Welcome to the world of renamed Hong Kong movies!