Combustible Celluloid
 
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With: Jung Woo-sung, Lee Byung-hun, Song Kang-ho, Ryoo Seung-soo
Written by: Kim Jee-woon, Kim Min-suk
Directed by: Kim Jee-woon
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Language: Korean, with English subtitles
Running Time: 130
Date: 03/18/2013
IMDB

The Good, the Bad, the Weird (2010)

3 Stars (out of 4)

A Fistful of Brawlers

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

This comic Western from the director of A Tale of Two Sisters is much too long and doesn't always seem to know what it's doing or where it's going, but for an hour at least it carries a serious bang. The title and much of the music, plot and scenery suggests an homage to Sergio Leone, but once again, it is proven that Leone was one of a kind; director Kim Jee-woon can't help employ more conventional techniques like hand-held, shaky cam and goofy music. Likewise, his bombarding comedy style helps to cancel out Leone's collision of empty spaces and extreme close-ups, silences and explosions. It's as if Kim realized he couldn't do Leone exactly and suddenly announced, "just joking!"

The plot in The Good, the Bad, the Weird has to do with a treasure map. Everyone wants to get their hands on it, including every bandit in the land as well as the Japanese army. But the "weird" (the great Song Kang-ho, wearing a hat with earflaps) has got it, accidentally obtained in a train robbery, just before the "bad" (Lee Byung-hun) could grab it. The "good" (Jung Woo-sung) teams up with the "weird" for a bit, and there are lots of shootouts, chases and escapes. It all comes down to a three-way showdown, much like Leone's The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

In Kim's defense, it's not easy to do a comedy Western; the genre is not exactly in its heyday and many viewers have never even seen a real Western, so it's hard to know what to do with a funny one. And, frankly, Kim's effort is much faster and funnier than other recent attempts like Tears of the Black Tiger or Sukiyaki Western Django.

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