Otherwise know as The Good, The Bad, The Weird.
People who know my love of South Korean cinema know I’ve been dying to see this movie. Well it just so happens that I found a job after only 2 weeks of searching so I rewarded myself with the purchase of this film. I didn’t get it for a steal. I paid full price and was happy to do so. I’ve been trying to find this bitch for as long as I’ve know it exists but I often have an allergic reaction to paying full price for movies (note: full price for movies in Perth is $25). Considering I recently ordered 3 movies for less than that online (including shipping), you can see why it pains me. But I decided to splurge.
Thank God I did. It was oustandingly fun and hilarious. The basic synopsis is that The Magnificent Bastard (AKA The Bad, Lee Byung-hun) is hired to steal a map from a Japanese official. The fun starts when The Crazy (AKA The Weird, Song Kang-ho) steals it first. Bounty hunter The Badass (AKA The Good, Jung Woo-sung) just wants The Magnificent Bastard (don’t we all!) because he believes he’s the notorious Finger Chopper. Meanwhile, the independence fighters want the map, as does the Japanese army. The word “hijinks” doesn’t even come close.
The real superstar in this is The Crazy. The comedy he brings to this role is just brilliant. I knew Song Kang-Ho was capable of being funny (even the most serious role I’ve seen him in has a touch of humour to begin with) but I hadn’t seen him in an intentionally comedic role. I’ve said it before, South Korean comedy kills me. I was laughing loudly throughout. However, The Crazy also has the benefit of being the most developed character, which also helps set him up as the favourite.
After The Crazy, The Magnificent Bastard gets a decent amount of development as well. Why do I call him that? Because that’s what he is. He’s magnificent in his nasty ways, from laughing at his old boss before killing him, to shooting one of his own men to steal his horse. He’s damn good, and damn good-looking, and he knows it. He’s one of those irritating shits who has a right to be as cocky as he is.
The Badass doesn’t really get much in the way of development, but if there’s one scene where he shines it’s the uber, mega, chase/gunfight. From the moment The Badass joins the chase and the music changes to the classic disco track “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood” by Santa Esperanza, I was hooked. In fact, it’s how The Badass earned his new name. Riding a horse, shooting a rifle, he reloads by spinning the rifle around his finger. Bad.Ass. THEN, he turns around and rides back into the Japanese Army.
This is the kind of film that gets referred to as a “rollicking good time”. If you have someone you’d like to expose to South Korean cinema without frying their Hollywood-fed (or starved) brain, this’d be a good place to start. I urge everyone to give it a go.