Friday, November 7, 2014

The Good, The Bad and the Weird

I'm sure I must have mentioned this before, but I'm certain that the absolute worst grade for anything to get is a B+, where it's almost really great, but due to a few certain flaws, gets completely ruined. I would rather watch a completely incompetent movie than a movie with a lot of great ideas with poor execution, like The Good, The Bad and The Weird.

The Good, The Bad and The Weird was directed by one of my favorite Korean directors, Kim Tae-woon, and is steeped both in the cowboy culture for which it was named after and early 20th century Korean culture. The director actually has a prominent place in my own personal history, because it was after watching A Tale of Two Sisters in the states sometime in the winter of 2008, I decided that Korea seemed like a cool place to go, and I've spent the better part of a decade here since then. So, needless to say, I had somewhat high expectations for this.

One of the things that I think should be highly valued in movies is "world-building". By that, I mean that whenever you make a movie, if it contains only horrific things, then it creates a world where only horrific things exist. This is one of the reasons that I argue that Se7en is one of the greatest films ever made: Fincher creates an entire world of sickening crime. If there are pretty things in that world, we never get to see them, and they therefore don't even exist.

The world that The Good, The Bad and The Weird creates is pretty great, combining the grit and dirt of a traditional western with the culture of Korea at the turn of the 20th century, which itself was a mix of several different cultures at the time. It is a world that I wish I could spend more time in, and if there's ever a similar movie, I would be sure to see it.

But there never will be another Korean movie similar to this one, because of the way Korean audiences are. For one, the trend in Korean movies, especially lately is more towards gritty crime movies, and there seems to be no love for the fun, shoot-em-up, tongue-in-cheek style of this film. The creators of this film (and, I hesitant to blame Kim Tae-woon for these problems) decided to also propagandize it a bit, which is also a trend in Korean movies. Towards the end, the Japanese army makes an appearance that comes entirely out of left field, simply to make them the bad guys and watch them die by the dozens in an extended action scene that carries positively zero emotional weight to it unless you just naturally hate Japanese people.

It was really frustrating to see the movie take a turn like that, partly because it was the final nail in the coffin of a script that had a lot of problems with pacing and plot, and partly because it started out so. good. Taking a look at some of the character designs, you can see that there was certainly some coolness to this movie, and if you couple that with a fast pacing and a prevailing sense of distrust between every character, it's easy to see why this film had potential. Sadly, it just peters out into nationalistic garbage about how Korea is because something something.

1) Well made? - Aside from a failure of a script, the sets and character designs are superb
2) Contributed?  - Had this movie succeeded in either America or Korea, we could be talking about the start of a new genre with this film. It just wasn't good to warrant copycats or sequels though.
3) Good time? - For about 75% of the time I love this film
4) Watch again? - Definitely not
5) Worth it?  - Also no. I think you can feel safe skipping this
6) Who should watch this? - If you're a fan of Kim Tae-woon, you may consider watching this, but know that it's not one of his best. If you're interested in Korean movies, I can certainly recommend worse movies, but there are so many other good Korean movies out there, even then it's not even really worth your time.

No comments: