July 10, 2012

Tuff Fest II: The Good, the Bad, the Weird (2008)

Hey cool kids, I'm back with another post from my Tuff Fest series.
Simul-posted here: The Movie Advocate

Not so much an adaptation as an homage, The Good, the Bad, and the Weird (herein referred to as GBW) is seen by most to be the Korean version of Sergio Leon's notorious spaghetti western The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, but I must add my voice to those proclaiming it to be more then just a rip-off.  Aside from similar main characters, the stories are almost completely separate.  Unlike it's inspiration, however, GBW is hard movie to like.

More below the break!

Director Kim Ji-woon, a name which will inevitably be a household name after his next movie comes out, has a colorful imagination, one which does not fail to shine through in this production.  Ji-woon's scope and vision is impressive and awe-inspiring at times, providing the audience with shots and scenes which rival those of the mid-century Epics.  These sequences alone make the movie one worthy of a viewing.  However, GBW's frantic, schizophrenic pacing and tone make for a rough ride.  At times I was confused as to whether or not the movie was a comedy, a horror, an adventure, or any number of other various genres.  I think a healthy mix of genre's can be fine, but instead of mixing genres evenly throughout, or even flowing smoothly between them, GBW watches like being in a blender, jaggedly moving from one scene to another with unrelated and often opposing tones.  Regardless of whether or not this was the intent, when the movie ended, it left me exhausted and more pleased than I ought to have been that it was over.

That said, when Ji-woon is sitting still in a scene, and focusing on the tone and pacing of that one scene, he absolutely nails it.  The action bits are tense, the comedic parts are rather humorous, and the western bits feel like it's straight out of Italy (if you know what I mean ;) ).  I found many parts of the story engaging, and loved the characters.  It was also nice to see how solidly Ji-woon understood the elements of a western, and, instead of doing one straight, adapted the formula to fit his own needs.  Meaning that, with most westerns, it's rarely about cowboys.  Westerns set in the American west are generally about the Civil War.  Ji-woon clearly understood that, but, the story being set in China, instead of the North and the South, it was the Chinese and the Japanese, a substitution that worked just so dang well that I still marvel at how well it played out.

The Good, The Bad, and The Weird is a good movie, but one that feels little too long and is a little too jarring in it's tonal transitions.  However, if you're wondering what to expect from Arnie's first movie since leaving office, this one may be a good place to start.

-Luke Hunter James-Erickson
To see all the movies written about so far, click here: Tuff Fest II
To see all the movies written about during Tuff Fest I, click here: Tuff Fest I 
For an explanation as to what this is all about, click here: Tuff Fest Introduction.

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