Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Good, the Bad & the Weird (KOREAN DVD)



(Joheunnom Nabbeunnom Isanghannom)

DVD Review by Kam Williams

Headline: Korean Homage to Clint Eastwood Classic Comes to DVD


                The Good, The Bad and the Ugly (1966) was the final installment in the Sixties trilogy which turned Clint Eastwood into a bona fide movie star. That riveting spaghetti Western revolved around a grizzled gunslinger, a heartless hit man and a wanted outlaw’s race across the vast expanse of the barren desert in search of a buried treasure of gold bullion. It obviously occurs to some studios to try to improve upon perfection, which explains why we now have The Good, the Bad & the Weird, a flick written and directed by Ji-woon Kim.

This sprawling spoof is set in Manchuria where we find three Korean cowboys (Byung-hun Lee, Kang-ho Song and Woo-sung Jung) being chased by both the Japanese army and Chinese bandits while in a race to find, guess what, a priceless, hidden treasure. Yes, this variation has a slightly different title from the original, but it doesn’t otherwise credit the 1966 version for creating basically the same characters.

Again and again, the action here is vaguely reminiscent of Clint’s cinema classic. For instance, there’s the tableau where the hero rides his horse through the blazing sun while tethered to a bandit on foot with a rope around his neck. Where did I see that before? How about another where he shoots the air out from under a 10-gallon hat, every time a bad guy tries to pick it up?

Not that this is a scene-for-scene redo ala Gus Van Sant’s Psycho. No, Kim takes considerable license, too, such as setting the tale in the Thirties, so we have motorcycles and other modern conveniences alongside the genre’s 19th Century staples. Overall, this lighthearted, low-budget adventure is likely to work well for those capable of approaching it more as a novelty than a knockoff. That way, one might easily accept it on its own wacky terms without making any invidious comparisons to the source material.

                Clint Eastwood, chopsocky-style!


Very Good (3 stars)

Rated R for drug use and non-stop violence.

In Korean, Mandarin and Japanese with subtitles.

Running time: 130 Minutes

Distributor: MPI Home Video

DVD Extras: Cannes Film Festival highlights, international trailer, teaser and TV spots, and “The Making of” featurette.

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