As previously stated, I’m not going anywhere for Spring Break. That being the case, I figured I would catch up on some movies that have been piling up on Netflix. I thought it’d be fun to go through and once a day watch a film that popped up as a “suggestion” from Netflix and review the experience here on the blog to provide the illusion of regular content.
So here’s day four…
The Flick : The Good, The Bad, The Weird (2008)
The Director: Jae-woon Kim (I Saw The Devil)
The Players: Kang-ho Song (The Host), Byung-hun Lee (G.I. Joe – The Rise of Cobra), Woo-sung Jung (The Warrior)
Synopsis (via IMDb): 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?
Review: Director Jae-woon Kim describes this film as a “kimchee western” alluding to the spicy dish saying that the film is equally spicy and vibrant. He’s certainly right. The film is an entertaining bit of cinema and has the distinction of being the first film I’ve seen in a long time that was uniformly engaging. The pacing of the film is damned near perfect and the action is very well staged. The story beats hit at just the right moments and the fight choreography is phenomenal, especially the shootouts in the Ghost Market and in the beginning during the train robbery. The finale is equally engaging, with an almost Monty Python-esque level of absurdity.
The Good, The Bad, The Weird was the most expensive movie in South Korean cinema at the time of it’s release, a figure which I’m not sure still stands and I haven’t been able to find figures either way. It definitely shows. There’s a lot of set piece extravagance going on and it all makes for some wonderful eye candy. Do yourself a favor and give the film a look sometime soon.
The Great Comics Con Queso Star Wars Expanded Universe Reading Experiment – Entry # 10 : X-Wing Wedge’s Gamble
Here marks the tenth book in my quest to read through as much of the expanded universe as I possibly can before the end of the year. The second installment of the X-Wing series in many ways mirrors the second film in the original trilogy in that it’s much more engaging than its predecessor and ends on a cliffhanger with one of the principle players in the hands of the enemy. I don’t think that tactic was in any way accidental, I think the author was hoping people would see the parallel and understand the fact, much as I have, that the stories in the Star Wars universe are inherently cyclical. There is an element of history repeating itself over and over again in this universe and while it never becomes repetitive it does become easier to understand the actions of certain characters.
The book deals with the undercover insertion of Rogue Squadron into Imperial Center, formerly Coruscant, in the hopes of weakening it enough for the rebellion to overthrow the government and take control of the planet. They do this by liberating criminals from a prison planet and re-establishing a smaller scale faction of Black Sun, previously crippled with the death of Xizor in Shadows of the Empire, to destabilize the government. What results is a tense espionage style thriller set in the Star Wars universe that seems to resonate particularly well in the times of strife we see in the middle-east today. There is an aura of truth to the political warfare waged in this book, on both sides. The Empire is an enormous propaganda machine with museums dedicated to the deceased Emperor’s glory and his views on the history of the Jedi and the Old Republic. The Rebellion knows it has to sacrifice it’s core values and employ less than desirable elements to help with their cause. It’s all very much like the way our real world works and as I’ve said before, that’s the cornerstone of great sci-fi.
I’m really looking forward to jumping into the next book but it will probably take me a while to finish as I have two other books that need to be read by next week for classes at the university, but I may try to sneak in a chapter every day just to break up the monotony.