Friday, February 17, 2012

The Good, The Bad, The Weird...

No, seriously.
That's the actual title.

This past week we watched the hilarious Korean action/comedy "The Good, The Bad, The Weird" by Jee-Woon Kim (the Tale of Two Sisters, The Uninvited, Etc.) we weren't sure what to expect going into the film, as it was an accidental find on Netflix. Needless to say, it was good enough to inspire this blog entry... though it was a bit light on the martial arts action. But, there was punching and

Because we were largely unfamiliar with the cast, the only commentary we have is with regard to this guy... and that one, simple, single word is...


Now, this is perhaps the quirkiest, funniest, Korean western you will EVER see. Trains, horses, a treasure map, noodles, zig-zag running through the Gobi desert, punching, and guns.

Our story starts out in a closed door meeting between a prominent Japanese businessman and An unidentified delivery person who is taking a treasure map to Karemaru and collecting payment. He warns of bandits, especially "Park Chang-Yi" (Byung-Hun Lee) Then, the businessman enters into a new room and starts talking to his hired bandit, THE Chang-Yi, about stealing the map back and making everyone rich. Insert moody lighting, a good lookin' bad guy, a little MUWAHAHAHHAA... And you pretty much have the basis upon which the rest of this story is built.

So... Cut scene and you are now you are on a classic steam train rolling through Manchuria. And it is here that you totally scratch your head, wonder why the Manchurians, Japanese, Chinese, Mongolians, and Koreans are dressed in wild west attire. But it will all make sense in about 5 minutes.

So while we're getting over the "Two Worlds Colliding" thing, we first meet the rest of our wildly entertaining cast... and a goose. Yoon Tae-Goo (The Weird) is a seemingly lovable and bumbling thief, presumably on the train by some crazy diving accident.  Park Do-Won (The Good) is our dashing "Hero", hell bent on collecting a bounty on Chang-Yi (The Bad). The goose doesn't really matter to the overall story, but it's there, it made MJ laugh out loud, and it's entertaining... thus it is worth mentioning.

Now, Tae-Goo (The Weird), is completely, randomly lucky, and somehow manages to steal the highly coveted map, not really knowing what it is.  Chang-Yi (The Bad) discovers that the map he has been sent to steal is gone and he takes off shooting after Tae-Goo. But, his efforts are quickly disrupted when Do-Won (The Good) shows up, blasting a shotgun at Chang-Yi. Everyone starts shooting everyone, running-jumping-shooting chaos happens, you have no idea who is on what side, and in the confusion "The Weird" gets away with the map and bullets dancing at his heels as he zig-zag runs through the desert. 

In addition to the insanity, a bunch of Manchurian bandits (who also somehow know about this damn map everyone wants...) watch from a distance as the drama unfolds, having a hilariously exchange about "the idiot with the map".
The Manchurians - aka "The Revolution"

Now, while "The Weird" and his nerd-bandit buddy try to figure out exactly what it is they have in their possession, Chang-Yi returns to his employer, and it is here that we learn exaaaaactly how "Bad" he is. He brutally murders his boss, robs the family safe, which quite honestly holds more than any one person could possibly need, and sets back with his goons to find our "Weird" friend.

Yup... He oozes BAD!!!
By now Tae-Goo has figured out that he has some kind of valuable treasure map and is convinced that it is the key to vast amounts of gold and jewels. (so cliche!) So he is not at all surprised to be attacked from all sides while he is camping out in a Chinese lodging unit in Bandit-ville... because I don't really know what else to call this place, and it sure the heck isn't Margarita-ville. It it at this time that you begin to realize that everyone seems to have picked up their wardrobe at the off-the-rack Prince and the Revolution store, and that it is really hard to decide who's good/bad. 

Insert sheer throngs of "Revolution" people running, shooting, shouting, punching, stabbing, etc. in purple fur and sequin. The whole thing is mind boggling, thus making it quite difficult to decipher who is on what team. All for that one guy with the Mo-Hullet though. You KNOW he's a bad guy.

Both Chang-Yi and the crazy Manchurian gang guy show up at the lodging place. Tae-Goo escapes back to his home and hides the map with his elderly grandmother, whom he shoves in a closed and tell to stay that until he returns. He then hops on his bike and heads back into the desert, only to be blown straight off the bike (the shooting in this film is incredible, hence the blog) by "The Good", who has figured out that even "The Weird" is worth a bit-o-cash, having a small bounty on his head. The Good takes the Weird prisoner and heads out to turn him in and collect his money.

"The Weird" stylin' a scuba helmet for extra protection
In the meantime, everyone thinks that Tae-Goo's friend has the map, so he is visited by both the Manchurians, who threaten him, and the increasingly bad Chang-Yi, who essentially slashes him into just ribbons and ties him to the back of a horse by his ankle and drags him around a bit. 

Eventually the bandit gangs of Bandit-ville, China chase away Chang-Yi and his goons. Then, both The Good and the Weird head off together on their quest to find the hidden treasure... but the map??? It has been taken by the Manchurian gang leader who, at full tilt, leads his band of bad guys entirely in the wrong direction. So, the "Revolution People" (aaaah, Prince. You'll never live this one down) take off running back to try and get to the treasure before anyone else.

That night, The Good and The Weird are settling down by the campfire. The Good tells a story in reference to why he is chasing Chang-Yi. It involves a contest of speed, a lost duel, and payment made by "The Finger Chopper", whom The Good states is Chang-Yi. The Weird disagrees with him and then starts snoring. The Good awakes the next morning to find that The Weird has taken off to find the treasure alone.

At this point, everyone is running all over the place, trying to find the hidden treasure. It closely resembles a scene out of "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World", but in China and with a lot of shooting, punching and stuff blowing up. And now, somehow, the Japanese Army is involved. (scratches head) The number of bullets and explosions alone should guarantee that everyone dies... and The Weird manages to get away without a scratch, but works with The Good to blow up a canyon and bury everyone inside.

The Weird and The Good arrive at the site of the treasure to find... a doorway. They dig where the treasure is supposed to be, only to find what they deem to be a stinky pipe. The Bad arrives, and the challenge for who is the toughest and fasted is ON!! You get the shifty eyes going between each other, and then Chang-Yi addresses The Weird, saying "Nice to see you again Finger Chopper"! OH MAAAAN!!! 

Gotta love that classic Western showdown feel...
Insert back story montage and then mister handsome pulling off his cliche bad guy glove to reveal that he has a metallic, prosthetic finger. The Weird smiles... the duel of epic shooting is on!!! Boom, boom, Pow, Blast, Boom... and in the middle of all the shooting, the stinky treasure pipe explodes, spooting crude oil all over the place.
Our movie closes with The Good walking into a town square and observing the new bounty listings being put up on the public board.  The Bad gets the face on his notice crossed out. The Weird gets his notice replaced with a higher bounty poster. And The Good??? Well, he rides into the sun seeking out his next treasure.

For good measure, we've included the trailer so that you can grasp a bit of the comedy, action, western type stuff that goes on in this movie.

It is available for streaming on Netflix, and can be rented from iTunes for $4.99. I'm not entirely sure of any video stores that may carry it. (Sorry)

So, check it out and be thoroughly entertained tonight!!

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