In the DMZ separating North and South Korea, two North Korean soldiers have been killed, supposedly by one South Korean soldier. But the 11 bullets found in the bodies, together with the 5 ... See full summary »
A guksu western. Three Korean gunslingers are in Manchuria circa World War II: Do-wan, an upright bounty hunter, Chang-yi, a thin-skinned and ruthless killer, and Tae-goo, a train robber with nine lives. Tae-goo finds a map he's convinced leads to buried treasure; Chang-yi wants it as well for less clear reasons. Do-wan tracks the map knowing it will bring him to Chang-yi, Tae-goo, and reward money. Occupying Japanese forces and their Manchurian collaborators also want the map, as does the Ghost Market Gang who hangs out at a thieves' bazaar. These enemies cross paths frequently and dead bodies pile up. Will anyone find the map's destination and survive to tell the tale? Written by
My expectations for this film were through the roof. It's basically a Korean all-star game: directed by Ji-woon Kim, he of A Bittersweet Life and A Tale of Two Sisters fame (not to mention The Quiet Family), and starring three of Korea's finest (or at least most popular) actors, Woo-sung Jung, Byung-hun Lee, and (one of my favorite actors, Korean or otherwise) Kang-ho Song.
The production values are top notch, the direction creative and self-assured, the special effects worth the time and money spent on them. I love the kill scenes as directed by Kim, especially one of the first ones where a guy is running from train car to train car, bursting through doors like they don't exist and then BAM! He's five feet behind where he was. You have to see it to appreciate it, I guess. The timing and the focus on the result instead of the impact makes the impact seem more impactful. Whoever edited this film did a great job.
Woo-sung Jung plays the Good, and he's a cute guy who oozes goodness, so that's good. His character is perhaps a bit under-played/under-developed but that's the nature of Good, isn't it? Byung-hun Lee as the Bad has a little bit too much contemporary in his swagger and look. He's more arrogant than Bad, but we're supposed to dislike him so that's good too. Not surprisingly, it's Kang-ho Song, as the Weird, who steals the show. He runs through this movie like a chicken or a turkey with its head cut off but never misses a beat. He's having a good time and makes sure that we do too. He's able to do things that many other actors are incapable of like delivering predictable lines with equal parts sincerity and irony so that we won't even think of groaning out loud. He's so adorably slightly plump and likable that even when ... well, I don't want to give it away ... we like him. We really do.
Caught up in all the fun and excitement I almost forgot that, with very few exceptions, movies with lots of gun fights are stupid.
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