Korean director Kim Jee Woon returns with 'The Good The Bad The Weird' the follow up to 'A Bittersweet Life', but whilst the latter was a stylish slice of Korean gangsterism this one is a totally diffrent animal all together.
Set in 1930's Machuria it follows 3 diffrent types of outlaw, one a bandit, another the leader and most feared assasin in Manchuria and the other a bounty hunter for hire. All involved in the hunt for a map which has the markings for treasure on it.
The film opens in fantastic style with the a massive action set piece aboard a train, here we are introduced to the main players, Kang-ho Song as the Weird, Byung-hun Lee as the Bad and Woo-sung Jung as the Good. What follows here is an exellent opening with some fantastic action as the Weird stumbles across the map by accident as the Bad and his gang are set to jump aboard and go directly for it. The shoot out which follows is entertaining and the introduction of the Good is subtly handled as he is watching the carnage and gun fire from a safe view, but it's not long before he himself is involved in the melee of bullets.
The setting of 30's Manchuria is an inspired one and features some great panaramas and is a fantastic back drop for the action.
The main cast members are all great in their roles also, with great comic relief coming from Kang-ho Song's 'Weird' who is genuinley funny and a real treat to watch, although the humour never interupts or detracts from the story or action. Byung-hun Lee's 'Bad' is also a revalation, very unique in his look and a very violent character, but for all his repulsive actions and bad humour he is great to watch and it's hard not enjoy his screen precence. The 'Good' played with efforless cool from Woo-sung Jung is also great, a ruthless bounty hunter who will stop at nothing to get to the map, he also has one of the best sequances in the film where he swings around on a rope taking out the Bad's henchmen with realative ease. Also his fragile teaming with the Weird brings some great laughs as both are so diffrent from one another.
The main focus in this film however is undoubtly the action set pieces, which are brilliant and well choerographed, all the action is great to watch with it's bombastic and gung-ho shoot outs that just never get dull. The best section however is the epic chase toward the end as the Wierd, with said map, is racing toward the treasure, behinde is both the Bad and Good, various other bandits and the Japanese army, who are also now after the map even though they dont really no what it is a map to or for. This is a brilliant set piece with explosions, gun fire, horses, bikes and is enlessly watchable.
Kim Jee Woon has created a chase sequance that is both great to watch and well choreographed.
The finale to the movie is a an obvious homage to the films of Sergio Leone, particually the 'Dollars' trilogy, but it never feels like a cheap imitation or rip off, you can see that Kim Jee Woon has a huge amount of admiration and respect for the source material he is giving a cheeky nod toward.
This film has so many great moments, violent and funny in equal mesure and the Weird in the Divers helmet is definatley a highlight.
Director Kim Jee Woon has once again proved he is the master of genre film making, not afraid to take you on a journey of shoot outs and explosions with a good but not overpowering dose of humour.