A Bittersweet Life, Arnie, Arnold Schwarzenegger, film, Hanguk Cinemateque, I Saw the Devil, Kim Ji-Woon, Korean film, Lee Byung-Hun, movies, Oriental Western, Song Kang-Ho, South Korea, spaghetti western, The Good the Bad the Weird, The Last Stand, western
I’ve decided to do a short and regular Korean film recommendation (not review) to act as a sort of companion to Korean Dispatches especially for those interested in discovering finely crafted cinema from the peninsula. The first of this series being The Good, the Bad, the Weird.
It was marketed as an oriental western in the English speaking world and that’s as good a definition as I could give it. Its director, Kim Ji-woon, is one of Korea’s key directors of the 2000s, having directed among others A Bittersweet Life and I Saw the Devil, both of which I shall be talking about again soon. Kim, who is set to release his first American film this year, The Last Stand, starring none other than Arnold Schwarzenenegger, manages to pull off a slick, entertaining, original and funny movie.
Set in the deserts of Manchuria sometime during the Japanese invasion, it’s all about the film’s eponymous characters; the good, the bad and the weird, respectively a bounty hunter, a hitman and a thief, as they chase after a treasure map, and treasure, all while being pursued by the Japanese army and Manchurian bandits. I’m sure that’ll sound very familiar to any spaghetti western fan…
Prior to watching it, I was expecting anachronisms and many out-of-place elements from westerns, but really there weren’t any very obvious ones (except for the very obvious ones). In any case, the obvious ones shouldn’t upset anyone’s suspension of disbelief too much and the story itself wasn’t so far fetched that it was beyond the realms of possibility (come to Asia and you’ll see what I mean). Of course, there is a haircut or two that seems a little less plausible, but it’s to be expected with Koreans being so conscious about issues related to fashion.