60/60 Extra: The Good, The Bad, And The Weird.

I know this isn't a well-known or classic film of the genre, but it's a good transition between the previous film and the next one. This film is to the action western as, essentially, Hot Fuzz was the buddy cop/action films. Taking place in World War II-ish Manchuria, this film is a strange hybrid that almost feels steampunk, but isn't. After a man hires another to take a treasure map onto a train, he then goes and hires Park Chang-yi (Byung-hun Lee)--the Bad--to steal it back so that he'll have paid the first man but will have retained the map. Unfortunately, a bumbling train robber named Yoon Tae-goo (Kang-ho Song)--the Weird--steals the map first, not knowing what it is. In the middle of all this is a bounty hunter named Park Do-won (Woo-sung Jung)--the Good--who is out to capture and/or kill Park Chang-yi, thinking him the dastardly Finger Chopper. Their three stories continually intersect throughout the film, and eventually Yoon Tae-goo and Park Do-won travel together, following the map to its supposed treasure.

This film is f**king fantastic (and if you don't believe me, take a gander at its 7.4 on imdb and 83% on Rotten Tomatoes). The thing that threw me at first, however, was the time period. You're never given anything directly stated, so after seeing steam engines, cowboy hats, and horses, I was thrown off when motorcycles appeared. Not to mention the strange clothing, giant war hammers, more modern guns (in comparison to old west revolvers), and more. But about halfway through, I looked it up and saw it took place in the 1940s, so everything started making more sense (except maybe the clothing, but maybe that's what it was like in 1940s Manchuria).

Once you get past that little bit of confusion, everything else is superb. This movie is an action film, no doubt about it. It's almost non-stop. And outside of Kung Fu films and bent reality actioners like The Matrix, Equilibrium, Wanted, etc., it's some of the coolest action I've seen. The movie starts off with an awesome train heist and shootout and doesn't let down from there. A couple noteworthy moments include shooting a guy at a distance in the face through his sniper scope, shooting while swinging over rooftops on a rope-pulley system, facing a Japanese army between horseback and jeep/convoy, and--of course--the final showdown at the end. And more... so much more.

The movie isn't overly serious--knowing exactly what it is--but it didn't become what I most feared, either. It didn't become absurd or overly goofy like a Stephen Chow film (which are good in their own right, but it's not what I wanted here... and thankfully, I didn't get that). The film does ground itself in reality. Yes, it is pretty weird at times and the action can be over-the-top, but it never gets cartoonish or comic book-y. It has a good balance of seriousness and comedy.

The acting is superb, too. Byung-hun Lee is menacing and unrelenting as "the bad," and you wonder how anyone could ever beat him (and he looks awesome). But then you have Woo-sung Jung as "the good," who is a badass himself, able to shoot accurately from afar--making him even deadlier close up. It took me a while to get used to his looks (he's not your typical strapping hero), but his acting quickly makes up for it. Then you have the comedic Kang-ho Song as "the weird," who is more bumbling than weird. He plays the character perfectly with a sense of silliness but an air of skill, as if perhaps actually knowing exactly what he's doing after all. He leaves you questioning through most of the film if he's actually an idiot or if there's more to him than meets the eye (no, he's not a Transformer).

Just like The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, the characters switch around among their labels throughout the film. And, of course, there are other similarities besides the characters. The basic plot of the film being the three hunting for a hidden treasure in the middle of a war-torn land is straight from the aforementioned film. But it also pays homage to other westerns, such as A Fistful of Dollar, For A Few Dollars More, Once Upon a Time in the West, Duck You Sucker, and even, despite not being a western, a bit of Raiders of the Lost Ark (thank you IMDb for the list of film connections). As I said at the beginning, this film is to the action western what Hot Fuzz is to modern buddy cop/action films. It pays homage to these other films of the genre inside a sometimes serious, most times funny, over-the-top action film.

If you're a fan of Sergio Leone's work, especially the namesake film, I'd definitely recommend checking this one out. It's absolutely fantastic. Even if you're not a fan of westerns but love a good action film, totally seek this out. However, I want to say that, apparently, there are at least two versions of this film. The one on Netflix Instant Streaming is an inferior cut--from what I've read--leaving out a couple key moments near the end of the film. And speaking of, don't turn off the film once the credits start rolling. About a minute or so in, you're shown another scene (which is also where one of the essential moments is missing from, apparently, in the Netflix version). Anyway, I'll stop rambling now. If I wanted to give any negatives, it would be that at just over 2 hours, the film does feel a slight drag at the end of its second act/beginning of its third act, but that quickly goes away. So yeah, definitely check this out. The action alone is worth it.

Rating System.
Royale With Cheese


  1. Nick, your glowing review enticed me enough to rent it via Netflix, and holy frakking Hell, I'm happy I did. Yea, I'm pretty much going to go out and buy the Blu-Ray and show it to anyone in my lot of friends and family who are willing.

    Coolest scene for me was about 50 mins. in when Yoon Tae-goo tries to find Man-gil and then there's that entire shootout in the rain. The bit when Yoon Tae-goo put on the submarine helmet had me crying out laughing.

    Awesome write-up of an awesome film.

  2. I'm late to the party on this one, so sorry for commenting half a year after the review.

    Anyway, this is a make-or-break film for me, in that a part of me judges the reviewer talking about this film. If you don't like this film, I wonder if there's something mildly wrong with you.

    This is one of the films that is pulling me into watching more and more Korean movies. Great stuff, great characters, fun movie start to finish.


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