Sunday 13 June 2010

Once Upon A Time In Korea

The Good The Bad The Weird 2008
Korea Directed by Ji-woon Kim
Icon DVD Region 2

Finally caught up with The Good The Bad The Weird after I’d missed it at the cinema a year or two ago... thanks goodness for HMV sales.

Let’s face it, there’s nothing like a good Sergio Leone movie... and this is nothing like a good Sergio Leone movie (drum sting).

What it is, however, is a fun, action packed movie set in the 1940s (according to the IMDB although I’m not so sure) which doesn’t really outstay it’s welcome and which has a very rich visual palette, saturated in references to various spaghetti westerns, particularly those of Sergio Leone (there’s even a piece of music made to resemble Cheyenne’s Theme from Once Upon A Time In The West). It never gets boring and though there are no really “great” set pieces, the cobbling together of several “very good and competent” action sequences to hang onto the loose narrative idea are all hugely watchable. Although it has to be said that the editing together of hand held camera and smooth gliding camera in the train sequence near the start of the movie is a bit jarring and may well pop you out of the film.

Nice colours, especially in the first half an hour or so and an interesting set of contrasting juxtapositions which are certainly welcome and which make perfect narrative sense in context of the scenes in which they play out (deep sea diving helmet in a shoot-out for example), so much so that I don’t see how the “weird” in the title can be in anyway applied to this movie as it is at no times surreal... unless the movie-makers meant the original definition of the word to mean a persons “fate”... which I don’t believe they did.

If there’s any reason for complaint then it might be found in the ending of the movie. There are a few alternative endings presented on the two discs on the UK DVD release and it has to be said, that although the final outcome of the movie is unchanged, the alternative Korean ending of the movie makes for a more satisfying conclusion and leaves you as to no doubt on the viability of a sequel should the audience ever require it.

A nice action epic for a Sunday afternoon’s viewing. Everything that Sukiyaki Western Django should have been a few years back.


  1. Thanks for this. I agree that it is a serviceable spaghetti western revamp. It's maybe a little too reverent and so predictable, but a chance to see three great Korean stars and the Mongolian countryside is priceless.

  2. Thanks for your comments on this. I just wish I'd got the chance to see it on a big screen for the first time.