Set in the 1930's Manchurian desert where lawlessness rules, three Korean men fatefully meet each other on a train. Do-Won (Jung Woo-sung) is a bounty hunter who tracks down dangerous criminals. Chang- yi (Lee Byung-hun) is the leader of a group of tough-as- nails bandits. Tae-goo (Song Kang-ho) is a train robber with nine lives. The three strangers engage in a chase across Manchuria to take possession of a map Tae-goo discovers while robbing the train. Also on the hunt for the mysterious map are the Japanese army and Asian bandits. In this unpredictable, escalating battle for the map, who will stand as the winner in the end?
A Blast of a Western
- The Good, the Bad, the Weird review by Alphaville
A 2009 Korean spaghetti western set in the Manchurian desert by talented director Kim Jee-Woon. It has its OTT cringe moments thanks to a Jackie-Chan-type character (the ‘weird’), but the ‘good’ is suitably heroic and the ‘bad’ is brilliant, thanks to Lee Byung-Hun’s usual charismatic screen presence.
Above all, the set pieces, as in all Kim films, are glorious. He revels in the power of visual cinema, playing with the image in an almost Godardian way. The opening train heist is flamboyantly filmed with swooping fly-cams and travelling shots. Even better: a sweeping 12 minute chase sequence across the desert that is part of a brilliant last half-hour paying homage to Sergio Leone.