Stiq Flicks – from film and video game industry freelance writer Kevin Kelly – examines video games and attempts to pair them with matching films. It's like wine and cheese, but with more aliens.
Loot, treasure, swag, the goods. It's what fuels the pursuit of plenty of video games. But when you boil that essence down into an experience that is extremely focused on the loot experience, you wind up with something that fuels that need perfectly, like Borderlands 2. There might be a firefight raging next to you, but if there's an orange gun on the ground, you'll ignore bullets, rockets, and certain death in order to grab it.
In the realm of the movies, there are plenty of films about adventurers seeking treasure, but we wanted something that had an unlikely band of daredevils coming together in order to find fortune and glory. While The Goonies is one of the best treasure-seeking films of all time, there just isn't enough gunplay in it to marry it to Borderlands 2. Then there are the Indiana Jones films, which recently hit Blu-ray. But he's definitely more of a lone gun type of guy, weighed down by sidekicks.
So, we turned to one of the most stunning films to come out of South Korea. It takes some liberty with one of the most famous western films of all time, and adds a ton of South Korean flavor and humor to it. When three very unlikely adventuring gunplayers come together in search of treasure marked on a map, you get a gorgeously shot, well-acted film that is The Good, the Bad, and the Weird.
Directed by Kim Jee-Woon, The Good, the Bad and the Weird obviously drew inspiration from the Sergio Leone classic The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. In Kim Jee-Woon's version, 'the Bad' is an assassin who has been tasked with getting an ancient treasure map from some wealthy travelers on a train. But before he can acquire it, 'the Weird' swoops in and steals it. Then 'the Good' comes in as a bounty hunter trying to capture the Bad and claim the reward. Around the trio is a group of Manchurian bandits who want to get the map and sell it on the black market.
Basically, it's your classic Western standoff over untold riches. But there are more twists and turns than a sidewinder in this movie, with an ending you wouldn't expect. One of the things that makes the film so impressive, especially in the time where everything is made with CGI, The Good, the Bad, and the Weird uses practical effects and stunts most of the time. Compared to any number of American wannabe summer tent-pole movies, this film blows them out of the water.
There are terrific performances throughout the film, but Song Kang-ho's portrayal of 'the Weird' is fantastic. He's the same actor who played Park in the highly-recommended Korean film The Host. He's key to the plot here, and provides most of the levity throughout the film. In fact, his wacky antics are so enjoyable I've put together a Weird costume for Halloween. True story.
Where You Can Watch The Good, the Bad, and the Weird The Good, the Bad, and the Weird is available on Netflix to watch instantly, or you can stream it on Amazon for $2.99 in SD, and $3.99 in HD with an option to purchase either version for $9.99. You can also purchase the DVD or the Blu-ray from Amazon for around $12, but in a bizarre change of habit we wouldn't recommend either as the extras are extremely slim, and the Blu-ray is in 1080i for some reason and not 1080p. You're better off with the $9.99 HD version if you want to own it.
That is unless you can find the out of print limited edition Blu-ray from Korea. The good news is that it comes with a ton of extras, but the bad news is that the menus are all in Korean. Making the weird news the fact that there are English subtitles on the disc, but finding out how to turn them on will be like playing a Korean RPG without any instructions.
However you decide to watch it, The Good, the Bad and the Weird is a fantastic adventure film that puts a Korean spin on the Western genre. While they might not be on another planet or using futuristic weapons, their antics are just as enjoyable as vault-hunting on Pandora.
Kevin Kelly is a writer and pop culture junkie with a fixation on video games, movies, and board games. His writing has been seen at io9, Film School Rejects, Machinima, TechRadar, Wizard World, and The Austin Chronicle. He lives in Los Angeles and does not know how to surf. Follow him on Twitter @kevinkelly.