Tag: Sukiyaki Western Django

The Good, the Bad, the Weird

Korean cinema has really flourished over the last five years under the guidance of directors like Chan-wook Park and Joon-hoo Bong, and you could probably add Ji-woon Kim to that list as well. Though his last two movies (the horror thriller “A Tale of Two Sisters” and the crime drama “A Bittersweet Life”) haven’t had much of an impact overseas, his latest film is a fresh and fun action comedy that transcends its midnight movie façade to succeed as a true cult classic in the making. Unlike Takashi Miike’s “Sukiyaki Western Django,” which failed to make the most of its East-meets-West potential, “The Good, the Bad, the Weird” actually has a solid story and some great acting to go along with its flashy set pieces.

Clearly inspired by Sergio Leone’s “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly,” Kim’s film takes place in 1930s Manchuria where three strangers – a bounty hunter (Woo-sung Jung), an assassin (Byung-hun Lee), and a clumsy thief (Kang-ho Song) – face off for possession of a stolen treasure map while being pursued by a group of bandits and the Japanese army. Though it’s a bit long at 130 minutes, Kim does well to keep the story moving along as we learn more about the characters and how they’re connected to one another. Granted, the supposed Good of the film isn’t really all that good considering he kills the most people, and Jung makes him so mysterious that he’s also the least identifiable, but the other two actors are perfect in their respective roles – particularly Song, who’s so amusing as the comic relief that it’s hard to imagine the movie working as well as it does without him in the mix. The film also features a handful of incredible action sequences that underscore everything that’s great about “The Good, the Bad, the Weird,” and although it might not appeal to everyone, it’s one of the most wildly entertaining movies that I’ve seen all year.

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Sukiyaki Western Django

Director Takashi Miike is one strange dude, and that inherent weirdness is on full display in “Sukiyaki Western Django,” an unofficial remake of “A Fistful of Dollars” using a mostly Japanese cast speaking broken English. Set a few hundred years after the Genpei War, the movie takes place in a city called Utah-Nevada where two rival gangs – the Reds and the Whites – battle for control over a legendary treasure hidden somewhere in town. When a lone gunman arrives one day, the leaders of both clans try to woo him over to their side, only to discover that the nameless sharpshooter has plans of his own. Unfortunately, Miike’s homage to the Sergio Leone spaghetti westerns feels more like parody, and the choice to have his Japanese actors speak English (even though most of them are just sounding out the words phonetically) is just the start of the problems. The story jumps around so much that it’s difficult to keep the paper-thin story straight, the dialogue is incredibly lame, and there’s a surprising lack of action for a movie whose trailer was loaded with it. Additionally, most of the comedy injected into the story doesn’t work very well (namely a schizophrenic sheriff who comes off looking like Gollum from “Lord of the Rings”), and Quentin Tarantino delivers his worst onscreen performance since “Little Nicky.” “Sukiyaki Western Django” isn’t even half the film it could have been, and while many will expect something along the lines of a fun midnight movie, all you’ll find is a great idea gone to waste.

Click to buy “Sukiyaki Western Django”

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