Monday, March 23, 2009

Review: The Good, The Bad, The Weird

Not necessarily as endebted to the classic Sergio Leone spaghetti western with the similar title as you might think: THE GOOD, THE BAD, THE WEIRD plays out like one of Sammo Hung's "eastern westerns" (the portly "weird" character even physically resembles the Hong Kong legend) minus the kung-fu. In its place we are served up John Woo gun-battles, Mad Max car-chases and Indiana Jones stunt-work as our three titular Korean cowboys seek out the macguffin treasure map in a brilliantly filmed Manchurian desert wasteland. It's an all-out crowd-pleasing action film: joyful and upbeat, funny and fast-paced. If you're a fan of any of the films or film-makers mentioned in this paragraph, there will be something for you in THE GOOD, THE BAD, THE WEIRD.

The pace does slacken in the second half, as the addition of three further factions chasing the map takes its toll on an over-egged screenplay, and the film sadly peters out, the climactic three-way shoot-out failing to come anywhere close to Leone's iconic stand-off in THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE UGLY. But these are flaws that can be forgiven in a film that is as infectiously fun as this one, replete with great performances, beautiful cinematography, and a killer musical score. It is simply one of the best films to emerge from South Korea in recent years.

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