The first thing I'm going to tell you about The Good, The Bad, The Weird is that it is indeed a Korean light-homage to Sergio Leone's genre-defining classic The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. But trust Uncle Rossman, this flick is entirely its own entity. And it is one good mothafuckin' movie.
The second thing I'm going to tell you is that The Good, The Bad, The Weird is directed by Ji-woon Kim... the same brilliant fucker who gave us the hilarious (and disturbing) The Quiet Family, the mentally messed up (but hard-to-look-away-from) A Tale of Two Sisters, and the kick-ass mob movie A Bittersweet Life. Now if you've seen any of these movies you'll know that Kim pretty much knocks each out of the park in terms of character development, pacing, and cinematography, and if you've seen all of them then you'll know that he becomes the master of whatever genre he chooses to tackle, whether it be comedy, thriller, drama, or now (with tGtBtW), historical action-adventure-comedy. Going into The Good, The Bad, The Weird I knew that it was going to be sweet, but I just didn't know HOW fucking sweet.
The whole thing starts off in 1930s Manchuria with a train heist being pulled off by 3 separate groups at the same time. Everybody seems to be after a map that leads to a "great treasure" in the middle of the desert. On one side we have the Bad: one Park Chang-yi — a psychopathic mob leader who wants to be known as the greatest bad ass in Asia. Another side is the Good: Park Do-won — a bounty hunter who doesn't want treasure or glory, just to finish the job he's been paid to do. And last, and most crazy, we have the Weird: Yoon Tae-goo — a strange man in strange clothes, who never seems to comprehend the shit that he's into up to his neck when the other two are around... and they're always around seeing as Tae-goo manages to get a hold of and hang on to the fabled map fairly early on.
I don't want to give too much of the plot away (mainly because there really isn't much to give away — it's basically a chase movie with each man out for his own goals — but also because seeing the pants-shittingly awesome action and stunts for yourself without being spoiled as to their uniqueness and ass-kickery is what this movie was made for), but things get bad for all the parties involved, and by the end of this thing there are about 6 groups (made up of individual gunslingers to a large regiment of the Japanese occupying army) running around looking for either the map or the fabled treasure itself (despite the fact that nobody seems to know exactly what the treasure actually is).
There, the plot is simple, but what makes this movie worth watching is the action. This is some of the best action (from stunt work to fist fights to gun fights to chases) that I have ever seen. tGtBtW is fucking HUGE and quite epic in scope (when it comes to blowing shit up or throwing 15 men off their horses at once as they get shelled by a tank). There is one fight scene about half way through this beauty with some camera work and stunts so unbelievable that I would have sworn were done with CGI, but no, the CG was used very sparingly in this bad boy. All the explosions, all the ricochets, all the bodies falling and flying (including horses and tons of motorcycles)... everything is real (well, a real prop that is). More ammo and squibs are used in this movie than in Robocop I and II combined. This flick has it all, I'm not shitting you. It even has a death by impaling by spearhead (which then got a running jump and kick by the Weird up some poor schmuck's anus... Actually this happens twice). Oh, then there's the "death by dynamite in someone's pants," and the "horse and rider blown up in front of your eyes into chunky bits of meat by heavy artillery" scene. Honestly, this movie is awesome. There are simply tons of "HOLY SHIT!!@!" moments sprinkled throughout. Some of the most fantastic wipeouts ever recorded (on horse or on motorcycle) in the giant chase in the last 40 minutes.
Yeah, there's a bit of talk about the Japanese invasion of the mainland, and people talking all political about freedom fighters and the atrocities the Japs are forcing on the masses, but all in all this is pretty lightweight stuff that focuses on our three main protagonists. It's a Kimchi Western in kind of the same sense that Sergio Leone's works were Spaghetti Westerns (the soundtrack, though very Asian, even sounds like it could have been composed by Ennio Morricone himself). It's mostly a desert setting, they wear trench coats and wide-brimmed hats, have gun duels, rob trains, ride on horses... It's all rather awesome to behold, but you have to like the genre to begin with. If desert scenery makes you groan, forget about it.
There are some surprises and twists in this thing, but I won't even hint at them. When they appear it's much more fun to stare at the screen in awe then to be spoiled by a lowly retard movie reviewer... Speaking of which, don't read any more online reviews about this flick... They'll spoil the hell out of it just to be assholes. This thing is meant to be fun, and to enjoy it you need to go into it as relatively blind as you can. I may have said too much already.
That's some mothafuckin' good shit right there. Who knew that a group of Asians could make a better mothafuckin' Western movie than most shitty American directors!? They was so much explodin' and shootin' and dyin' that I loved this shit. It was just like being back in Detroit.
And Hollywood, you obnoxious mothafuckas, pay attention! You see how these Asian guys shoot their action scenes, bitches? They PULL THE GODDAMN CAMERA BACK and let you actually (get this) SEE THE MOTHAFUCKIN' ACTION taking place! How is that shit so hard to understan'?! Fuck you, Hollywood, but I praise you, you little Korean sons of bitches fo' makin' this masterpiece.
Meh, it weren't all that bad at'all. Funny Chinese folk runnin' around, gettin' blown up to smithereens an' shit. Ah enjoyed it... Though I did have a battery-operated device crammed up my yammer the whole time Ah was watchin' it... Maybe that helped with my appreciation for it...