DIFF 2010 - The Good, The Bad, The Weird, The Reesa

The Good, the Bad, the Weird Review

In 1930 Manchuria, the infamous bandit Park Chang-yi (the Bad) is hired by an industrialist to steal a map from a Japanese official traveling by train. Before he can get there, Yoon Tae-goo (the Weird), a seemingly petty thief, stumbles upon the map while robbing the train. Chang-yi almost catches him but Park Do-won (the Good), a bounty hunter, intent on getting his nemesis Chang-yi distracts the fight and Kang-ho gets away.

We are introduced to the Korean threesome in a great shoot ‘em up sequence on the train as the Bad (Lee Byung-hun) and his gang are chasing the train on horses. All this action is being watched by a Chinese gang, sort of like the western American Indian tribes taking stock of the situation and how to exploit it for their own gains.

Going back to his home base of the Ghost Market, the Weird (Song Kang-ho) doesn’t know what he has in the map. He thinks he should just sell it. His friend tells him that it’s a treasure map of gold and riches buried by the Qing Dynasty which is probably why the gang of Chinese bandits seems to be after him, too. The Bad is the conflicted bad guy with a secret behind his evilness. He kills a centipede with his throwing knife, and then shoots the end of his knife to push it in even harder. He is following the Weird and the Good (Jung Woo-sung) is following the Bad. The Good wears a long black coat and only wants to capture those on his bounty list. He saves the Weird from the Bad and the Chinese gangs. The Weird doesn’t seem to be as graceful or efficient a fighter and manages to get into trouble at every turn. He wants to cut the Good in on the deal with the treasure map if he helps him find it.

The film is filled with non-stop action involving cars, motorcycles, trains, blackmail, Korean independence fighters, being chased by the various gangs, and the Imperial Japanese army. The final scene has the three anti-heroes in a shoot out at the treasure spot which turns out to be nothing but an empty hole…or is it?

Director Ji-woon Kim wrote this 2008 Korean western with Min-suk Kim and it was originally called Joheunnom nabbeunnom isanghannom. It premiered at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival and was inspired by The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. Alternate endings and deleted scenes were released in the Korean and international markets. The Korean ending being more upbeat and then some international versions cut out scenes of animal cruelty. The movie is available on international DVD, but it should see a wide release here in the states later this year. (Review by Reesa Cruz Hawkins of Dallas Movie Screenings)