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. The pitch – "Korean comic spaghetti western" – sounded like the sort of ultra-hip, insubstantial, self-consciously campy Asian actioner I've grown tired of; I kept flashing back to Riyuhei Kitamura's much-hyped but totally useless Versus, an acquired taste I haven't acquired. I needn't have worried. 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.
Though you may think you're here to see how Kim (whom you may remember from his terrific horror entry A Tale of Two Sisters) plays with the western genre, you're really here for the action sequences. There are two spectacular ones: the rollicking train robbery that opens the film, and a later all-stops-out chase scene involving several gangs of bandits and the Japanese army. These aren't the sort of scenes that bring you to the edge of your seat, but rather the sort that put a steady, delighted grin on your face. Unapologetically goofy, absurdly attenuated, brilliantly paced, and backed by a rousing musical score, they alone make the film worth sitting through.