|Joheunnom nabbeunnom isanghannom 2008 South Korea The Good, the Bad, the Weird|
Unlike a number of people, I have absolutely nothing, in or on principle, against remakes. But this isn't a remake. Let's call it remake-esque. This one's got Weird, the other one had Ugly. And they do different stuff in this one, the treasure is different, and some other stuff is different, but the basic story arc is similar.
The production values are top notch, the direction creative and self-assured, the special effects worth the time and money spent on them. I love the kill scenes as directed by Kim, especially one of the first ones where a tough guy is running from train car to train car, bursting through doors like they don't exist and then BAM! He's five feet behind where he was. You have to see it to appreciate it, I guess. The timing and the focus on the result instead of the impact makes the impact seem more impactful. Whoever edited this film did a great job.
Woo-sung Jung plays the Good, and he's a cute guy who oozes goodness, so that's good. His character is perhaps a bit under-played/under-developed but that's the nature of Good, isn't it? Byung-hun Lee as the Bad has a little bit too much contemporary in his swagger and look. He's more arrogant than Bad, but we're supposed to dislike him so that's good too. Not surprisingly, it's Kang-ho Song, as the Weird, who steals the show. He runs through this movie like a poultry item (I can't remember if the saying is about a chicken or a turkey) with its head cut off but never misses a beat. He's having a good time and makes sure that we do too. He's able to do things that many other actors are incapable of like delivering predictable lines with equal parts sincerity and irony so that we won't even think of groaning out loud. He's so adorably slightly plump and likeable that even when ... well, I don't want to give it away ... we like him. We really do.
Caught up in all the fun and excitement I almost forgot that, with very few exceptions (especially in these modern times of technological machismo), movies with lots of gun fights are really fucking stupid.
Summary: With the Korean Peninsula under Japanese rule in 1930s, many Koreans flock to Manchuria for refuge. Some become bandits, some train robbers and yet others bounty hunters. While the Weird, a notorious train robber, is stealing from a Japanese train crossing the Manchurian plains, he discovers a treasure map. But the map is also sought after by the Bad, a merciless gang leader. Coincidentally, the Good, a bounty hunter, is on the train, and he is after the Bad. The three engage in a spectacular chase with the Japanese Army, the Korean independence fighters, and the Chinese bandits all looking to get their hands on the prized map.