Running time: 125 mins (approx)
Certificate (UK): 15
South Korea Release Date: 17th July 2008
Watched on Sky+ Monday 14th June 2010.
PLEASE NOTE: POSSIBLE SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW.
I can’t say I’m the greatest fan of the Western, maybe I watched too many in my youth, they were the only films on TV in those days. I do, however like a good Spaghetti Western. So, to come across a South Korean Spaghetti-style Western, I was more than intrigued. Here’s a very short summary and then my thoughts.
It’s all about a treasure map, Park Chang-yi (the Bad) is sent to steal it, but is beaten to the punch by Yoon Tae-goo (the Weird). At the same time, bounty hunter Park Do-won (the Good) is out to get both of them. Throw into the mix a gang of bandits and the Japanese army all against the backdrop of the 1940’s war in Manchuria and you’ve got a pretty good powder keg ready to go off. I won’t go too much into the plot, it’s pretty long and involved, but needless to say there’s plenty of excitement along the way to the place marked ‘X’ on the treasure map.
This is a very well made film with really excellent fight scenes, shoot-outs and chases all expertly done. I also liked the soundtrack; the music fitted the pictures perfectly in most instances. Great performances from all three of the major cast; Kang-ho Song as Yoon Tae-goo / The Weird, Byung-hun Lee as Park Chang-yi / The Bad and Woo-sung Jung as Park Do-won / The Good.
The plot was quite involved and a bit dialogue heavy, I felt, which for a foreign language film isn’t exactly an advantage. But if you can stick with the subtitles you are rewarded with a pretty good story. There are several plot holes in it, so it’s not perfect by any means, but it is still very entertaining with a few comic moments thrown in for fun. Over all, it’s certainly a different take on the Spaghetti Western, it has the look and the feel, but with a bit of South Korean spice. Recommended.
My score: 7.1/10
IMDb Site: http://uk.imdb.com/title/tt0901487/