The Good, The Bad, and The Weird
aka 좋은 놈, 나쁜 놈, 이상한 놈 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.
Let’s go over a brief plot synopsis now. As much of the film is action sequences, shooting, and fun, the plot synopsis is shorter than usual. It is also to help you discover more of the film (and because we are trying to spend less time going over plots of some of the movies, saving the big reviews for films that are incredibly confusing or messed up.) There are spoilers, so if you don’t want to know stuff don’t read to the end. I don’t give everything away but you will know who dies.
Several elements are conspiring to get Kanemaru’s bag at the same time. What is in this bag? I’ll tell you later in the paragraph. The bag is in Kanemaru’s presence on a train in 1930’s Manchuria, the new wild west. The Evil, Park Chang Yi, has his gang all set to rob the train. Several of his gang members are straight out of Mad Max movies. The Good, Park Do-won, has been hired by the resistance to also get Kanemaru’s bag. The Weird is Yoon Tae-goo, and he has them beat as he is already robbing the train and gets the bag. He manages to make it off the train through the blazing gun battle with the treasure map to the Qing Dynasty treasure that was hidden in the bag. Thus, every thug, mug, slug, and evil dude will be gunning for Yoon Tae-goo, along with Park Chang Yi, Park Do-won, and the Japanese Army.
Yoon Tae-goo’s friend Man-Gil picks him up from the robbery and is embroiled in the chaos with him. After another fight in a hotel from a random gang that wants the treasure map, Yoon Tae-goo ends up captured by Park Do-won and taken back to his hideout until the map is recovered for the resistance. Back at the the Ghost Market- where stolen goods are sold, Man-gil sells a copy of the map to the gang in the hotel shootout, but is then paid a visit by Park Chang Yi. He gets knifed up because he won’t talk, but Yoon Tae-goo and Park Do-won arrive just then to save him and get into a neat gunfight in the shanty town that is Ghost Market. Park Do-won spends most of the fight flying around on ropes and pulleys shooting everyone, while Yoon Tae-goo runs around with a diving bell helmet on his head. Park Chang Yi manages to escape with the remnants of his gang.
Yoon Tae-goo is free from Park Do-won for reasons not explained, but is quickly lured into a cathouse in the desert which is a front for the Korean independence movement. Except not really, they are working for the Japanese, and capturing children which are rescued by Yoon Tae-goo after he kills another Mad Max reject on his escape. So now the Japanese army is hot on his trail as well as Yoon Tae-goo heads towards the treasure.
The different groups searching for him and the treasure map are now all converging at once, and thanks to some Indiana Jones-style arrows we watch them all coming together for what will be an awesome, almost thirty minute sequence of different gangs fighting each other. This is among the highlights of the film, the sequence keeps going and going and getting more intense and spectacular as it goes.
Eventually, pretty much everyone is dead, and Yoon Tae-goo gets to the treasure location.
We’re gonna conclude the review up here, then below finish up the story review, that way if you haven’t seen it you won’t come whining to me. The film is great, I’ve watched it several times, which I don’t do much of anymore and rarely do for long movies like this. I highly recommend you track it down if you haven’t seen it. You know you get all your movie recommendations from guys with websites, so this guy with a website says to get this movie!
Rated 9/10 (Eagle, Granny, Servant, Slave, Charge!, Run!, Spotted, Scoped, Dead)
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Travel any further down and you will run into spoilers!
You have been warned!!!
We have a flashback to the namesake film The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly as Park Jo-won is there and orders Yoon Tae-goo to dig. The secret of the treasure is it isn’t there, and Park Chang Yi shows up for a three-way duel so they can see who the real champion is. As Park Chang Yi has a bunch of money he stole on him, it will be the prize for the fight. Everyone shoots each other lots of times until they all collapse. Park Chang Yi is dead, Park Jo-won takes the money, and Yoon Tae-goo awakens to the dead Park Chang Yi (Yoon Tae-goo was saved due to bullet proof vest) and ends up getting some jewels that were on Park Chang Yi’s body.
In the end, Yoon Tae-goo’s reward has been increased tenfold, and Park Jo-won begins hunting him, for the reward and for the knowledge of what Yoon Tae-goo’s secret identity is.