Review: The Good The Bad The Weird DVD

STUDIO: IFC/MPI | DIRECTOR: Kim Jee-Woon | CAST: Lee Byung-hun, Song Kang-ho, Jung Woo-sung
RELEASE DATE: 8/17/10 | PRICE: DVD $24.98, Blu-ray $29.98
BONUSES: featurettes, interviews, Cannes highlight reel
SPECS: R | 130 min. | Foreign-language action adventure | 2.35:1 widescreen | stereo | Korean, Mandarin and Japanese with English subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5): Movie | Audio | Video | Overall

Korean filmmaker Kim Jee-Woon (A Tale of Two Sisters) delivers a souped-up tribute to the movies of Sergio Leone with his “Kimchi Western” The Good The Bad The Weird, about an assassin, a bounty hunter (Jung Woo-sung) and a train robber struggling to obtain, and hold on to, a treasure map.

Western viewers who are not Asian moviephiles or history buffs might not be able to situate the action — which finds a trio of Korean characters running amok in Japanese-held Manchuria — but it doesn’t really matter if one truly understands why the Japanese army happens to be battling our heroes as the picture moves on. No rational reason is required to enjoy the movie’s non-stop action.

The characters have their Leone-like personas (“good,” “bad,” “weird”), and one need only know that the bad guy (Lee Byung-hun), who happens to be the coolest-looking of all three (clad in a suit, with hair carefully hanging in his eyes), needs to be eliminated — and quickly.

The action set pieces are a combination of clever computer tricks and impressive stunt work, and as such, they are the central reason to see the film. Byung-hun is indeed the most interesting of the three leads, but Song Kang-ho as the train robber offers comic relief in the manner of Eli Wallach in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

The strong cross-cultural undercurrents make The Good The Bad The Weird an extremely entertaining pick for both died-in-the-wool Korean cinema aficionados and action fans who don’t require a name cast for enjoyment.

 

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About Ed

Ed Grant has written about film for a wide range of periodicals, books and websites. He edited the reference book The Motion Picture Guide Annual and, since 1993, has produced and hosted the weekly cable program Media Funhouse, which Time magazine called “the most eclectic and useful movie show on TV.”