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The Good, the Bad, the Weird
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From South Korea comes this wild take on Sergio Leone s classic spaghetti Western The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. It s 1930s Manchuria and greed is in the air. A manic outlaw, a nasty holy man and a determined bounty hunter are all in hot pursuit of a treasure map. Throw in Chinese gangsters, the Japanese army and other rival factions also in pursuit of the invaluable map, and it all comes down to a you ve-got-to-see-it-to-believe-it showdown in the desert. One of the most expensive films ever made in South Korea, THE GOOD, THE BAD, THE WEIRD was the talk of festivals worldwide and won such prizes as the Asia Pacific Screen Award for its cinematography and the Asian Film Award for Best Supporting Actor (Jung Woo-sung).
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This is not a martial arts movie, and while many characters obviously know martial arts, that is not how they tend to settle their grievances. This is a western, and they settle disputes with their guns. The characters (and this is not limited to the three main characters) are all very entertaining. They all have their reasons, and while you won't always agree with them, you understand where they are coming from. The fact that this is a Korean movie only shows in its cast, so you don't need to know anything about their culture to `get' it. The film makers were not trying to cash in on a playful name, they clearly love the genre and it shows.
This was a very fun movie, and despite its length, it didn't drag on or overstay its welcome. I was actually shocked when it ended, because it didn't seem like over 2 hours had gone by. What it comes down to is this: If you don't mind subtitles and are thinking of buying The Good, the Bad and the Weird, then you probably should.
Although the title and basic plot advertise the film's thematic connection to Leone's "The Good the Bad and the Ugly", there are tons of references to other Leone films: notably "Fistful of Dollars" and "Once Upon a Time in the West". These references are subtle and don't parody the original Leone scenes so much as cleverly augment a refreshingly original execution of a common plot device.
Beyond the western trappings, it's a quintessentially Asian film with quirks, editing and cinematography more characteristic of east-Asian cinema than mainstream Hollywood productions.
That said, a common complaint is the film's uneven pacing and overdose of action scenes. While every gunfight is superbly executed in its own right, the movie's remarkable energy becomes almost draining by the final climax.
BUT, the blu-ray is 1080i!! Most of the time when Asian films get a 1080i transfer, it's because that's the only one available and the studio releasing the film is lazy/cheap. Like with some of the HK/Chinese blus. What that means practically is that there was pixellating in the image when the camera panned slowly. Also, in wide shots with lots of little detail, the image gets kinda blocky. This is a particularly unforgivable offense as there is another, apparently great 1080p transfer available in other markets. Very lame IFC. Sorry.