Go. Rent. It. Seriously. Now. Why are you still sitting there, reading this?
It is odd that a film that was made out of South Korea and filmed in China could elicit this reaction from a dude like me, but this has to be among the top five ‘westerns’ that I’ve ever seen, even if it was not at all a ‘western’ in the traditional sense. This movie is the embodiment of everything that Hollyweird doesn’t have the balls to do anymore. “So,” you ask, “what’s so great about it?”
Do you like beautiful cinematography? A fusion score made up of old Mexico, trance, jazz, and far-eastern folk song? Train heists? Gun fights? Chase scenes? Sergio Leone? Period motorcycles? Horse riding? Epic battles? Old military guns? Edged weapons and martial arts? John Wayne style lever action? High fashion? Sexy allure? Actual stunts not muddled up with tons of CG? Anime? Nonstop action? Massive explosions? If you answer ‘yes’ to any three of these, you need to see this flick.
This multiple award winning film is a western, filmed in China with hat-tips to Indiana Jones, The Man With No Name, and Akira Kurosawa, just off the top of my head. It opens with a bigger-than-life train heist and quickly establishes who is The Good, The Bad, and who is The Weird. Watching the film, I kept waiting for them to drop the cool factor and slide into something lame. It never happened.
The actors say, “To meet your expectations…” “We promise a great film.” “You won’t be disappointed.” They aren’t lying or bluffing, either. Jennifer and I had seen a trailer for this film on a DVD that we rented at some point or another. We decided to give it a whirl because it looked like fun. I honestly didn’t expect a whole lot, with preconceived notions on what a Korean western could possibly be. Suffice it to say, we were all blown away. Two days ago, we watched the original True Grit. I would put this movie up with that one, if that means anything to you. For full disclosure, it does contain a lot of violence, some nudity and sexuality. I wouldn’t show it to the younger kiddies, but the older ones will enjoy the action and adventure.
It takes place in Manchuria during the 1930’s. I’m going to have to check out other films from the writer/director, Kim Jee-woon, as this one was truly a masterpiece. If you have two hours and a three-dollar movie rental fee to spare, go check it out. You will thank me. Don’t stream it to your iThing via Netflix, either. This film deserves a big screen, surround sound, and a rumbly sub-woofer. The God, The Bad, The Weird. Go rent it now! In fact, don’t bother renting it. Just buy it on your favorite format.