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Big Screen | "Weird" Korean Western is New Critic's Pick

Photo of Peter Knegt By Peter Knegt | Indiewire April 21, 2010 at 1:50AM

Perhaps bracing for the upcoming summer season, it's a somewhat slower weekend at the movies on the specialty front (though there should be a significant amount of holdover business). Openers include Kim Ji-woon's Korean Western "The Good, The Bad, The Weird," Michele Mulroney & Kieran Mulroney's Ryan Reynolds-Jeff Daniels starrer "Paper Man," Duncan Ward's art world drama "Boogie Woogie," and Allen Wolf's sleep disorder thriller "In My Sleep." Of the four, while "Paper Man"'s star power might make it the most high-profile, it's Ji-woon's "Weird" that seems to be getting the biggest seal of approval from critics.
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Perhaps bracing for the upcoming summer season, it's a somewhat slower weekend at the movies on the specialty front (though there should be a significant amount of holdover business). Openers include Kim Ji-woon's Korean Western "The Good, The Bad, The Weird," Michele Mulroney & Kieran Mulroney's Ryan Reynolds-Jeff Daniels starrer "Paper Man," Duncan Ward's art world drama "Boogie Woogie," and Allen Wolf's sleep disorder thriller "In My Sleep." Of the four, while "Paper Man"'s star power might make it the most high-profile, it's Ji-woon's "Weird" that seems to be getting the biggest seal of approval from critics.

"The Good, The Bad, The Weird" holds a very respectable "B+" score from criticWIRE, and is being released exclusively at New York's IFC Center this Friday through IFC Films (it's additionally available On Demand). The film - which premiered at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival and then went on to screen in Toronto and Telluride and win the audience award at Fantastic Fest - was inspired by Sergio Leone's "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly." Set in the 1930s Manchurian desert, it follows three men (Jung Woo-sung, Lee Byung-hun and Song Kang-ho), who fatefully meet each other on a train. Each are seeking out a treasure map while also being pursued by the Japanese army and Chinese bandits. The result is what most critics agree is a very gory and very fun time at the movies.

"There's something strangely appropriate about plonking a highly ritualised cowboy movie in the far east," The Guardian's Peter Bradshaw writes in director Kim Jo-woon's hands, it becomes a brutal, bloody dance, with a sky-high body count and arterial gore spraying across every scene.

Eugene Novikov, meanwhile, wrote in his Telluride review for Cinematical: "Under no circumstances is Ji-woon Kim's 'The Good, the Bad, the Weird' a great movie, but I found myself genuinely impressed with it... Though Kim's western pastiche may be insubstantial, it's anything but a drag. It's masterfully directed, legitimately funny, and legitimately fun, thoroughly enjoyable even at an excessive 129 minutes."

Other generally positive reviews: Film School Rejects' Rob Hunter and Time Out's Tom Huddleston.

Finally, a notable negative review came care of The Village Voice, where Nicolas Rapold wrote: "Kim's filmmaking is generally cartoonish in a bad sense, as he squanders his set pieces, flashbacks, and other attention-getting with sometimes downright wretched staging. The expected climactic shootout is drained of suspense by isolating the gunslingers in poorly timed shots, for one final frustration too many."

Rapold definitely seems to be in the minority. Check out links to the film's indieWIRE page below, and well as pages for other films in theaters, each of which includes synopses, trailers and a variety of criticWIRE grades and links to reviews.

iW Film Calendar & criticWIRE:
criticWIRE | Opening this week | Opening this month | All Films A - Z

criticWIRE: Films Opening This Week

The Good, The Bad, The Weird (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B+

Paper Man (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: C

Boogie Woogie (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: not yet rated

In My Sleep (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: not yet rated

criticWIRE: Films Currently In Theaters

Everyone Else (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: A-

Exit Through The Gift Shop (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: A-

Women Without Men (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B+

Bluebeard (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B+

When You're Strange: A Film About The Doors (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B+

The Square (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B

The Secret In Their Eyes (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B

Greenberg (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B

No One Knows About The Persian Cats (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B-

The City of Your Final Destination (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B-

The Eclipse (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B-

La Mission (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B-

The Misfortunates (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B-

Breaking Upwards (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: C+

The Greatest (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: C+

The Jonses (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: C+

The Thorn In The Heart (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: C+

The Cartel (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: C

After.Life (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: C-

This article is related to: Paper Man





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