Thursday, March 12, 2009

Those Weird Guys (2) – The Good, The Bad, The Weird

Kim Ji-woon was previously considered as a horror movie director. So when he did A Bittersweet Life in a gangster style story-telling, ppl got a fresh eye on him. Then here comes this The Good, The Bad, The Weird, a tribute to those 50’s cowboy masterpieces.

The story was set to be happened in 1930’s Manchuria (the north-eastern part of China), a land of gangsters, thieves, Japanese, Independent Korean Movement, and, of course, local Chinese. When a mystic treasure map was leaked to the “market”, everyone wanna grab a piece of it. The fighting started from gun shooting in the street, all the way to heavy machine guns and canons shouting after horses and motorcycles on the Manchurian Plains. Really cowboy, right? But the movie also got some Asian style of humors, like how a whole group of Japanese cavalry men were shot down by a dead man behind a heavy machine gun. Some of the tricks can be even traced back to my long-time favorite French movie La Grande Vadrouille.

“The Weird” was actually a train robber, who happened to take the map in a “routine job”. Instantly he became the target of various gangster and military groups. On the run he appeared to be a funny guy yet with excellent shooting skills, which, at the very end, you would find out why. Song Kang-ho is a regular to international movie awards and has impressed the world with films like Joint Security Area (a.k.a. JSA), The President’s Barber, Sympathy for Lady Vengeance, The Host and Secret Sunshine. He is specialized in those grass-root roles that playing big in certain circumstances. This time definitely he did a good job in his regular shoes.

“The Bad” was a cold-blood killer, who killed his own boss and grabbed the leadership of the whole gang. During the hunting for the map, he showed no mercy to anybody or anything. Lee Byung-hun is one of the “heavenly kings” in Korean TV dramas, who tried to find a bigger fame on the bigger screens. Although he got a Captain-Jack-Sparrow-like eye makeup, he didn’t seem to have the same ability as Johnny Depp to take such a complicated role.

“The Good” was a bounty hunter, who was paid by the Independent Korean Movement to find the map, and on the way he also wanna arrest The Bad and The Weird for the bounty. Pity for Jung Woo-sung is that he got only one scene to show some acting skills. In most of the time he could be replaced by any stuntman. Not a successful try for this romantic topic regular to step out of the comfort zone.

The gun shooting scenes are essential for cowboy movies, as well as this one. But some scenes just seem too incredible, like Jung blasted a guy’s head with a shot gun in one hand while doing some Tarzan swift with the other hand. But the final “triangle dual” scene was quite classic.
As a Chinese, I really dislike the dialogues in Chinese in this movie (and in most Hollywood movies and U.S. TV): I could not even understand them! On the contrary, they did quite a good job in those lines in Japanese. So can I say that the 50 yrs’ occupation by Japanese did teach them sth.?

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