Gifted South Korean filmmaker Kim Ji-woon takes on Sergio Leone’s greatest western and (unbelievably) emerges victorious. It’s the 1930s in the desert wilderness of Japanese colonised Chinese Manchuria and three treasure hunters are in a race for booty. Hardcore hitman Park Chang-i (Korean superstar Lee Byung-hun, their equivalent of Johnny Depp) is in it for the glory, money and violence, bounty hunter Park Do-won (Jung Woo-sung) wants the money and to do the right thing and Yoon Tae-goo (Song Kang-ho) is the lucky rapscallion who found the map first. All hell is unleashed along the way; it is an adventure that pulls in the army, Manchurian bandits and the inhabitants of a mysterious ghost market.
Allowing himself to be inspired by but never overpowered by the iconography of Leone’s celebrated epic western, Kim Ji-woon, whose previous films include A Tale of Two Sisters and A Bittersweet Life, has made an incredibly enjoyable adventure film. If you want to know how to make a modern western, this is how. Utilising a few techniques from the wuxia films of the 1960s while keeping things high octane enough for a modern audience with some absolutely jaw-dropping action set pieces, this really is a joy. Gripping, funny, entertaining with never a dull moment, The Good The Bad The Weird is more fun than a barrel of spaghetti – or snakes.
Selected release from Fri 6 Feb.