Monday, 19 March 2018

Alternate Best Actor 2008: Song Kang-ho in The Good, The Bad, The Weird

Song Kang-ho did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Yoon Tae-goo aka the Weird in The Good, The Bad, The Weird.

The Good, The Bad, The Weird is a rather enjoyable eastern(?) about several people and different factions all after a single map that supposedly leads to some great treasure.

The three central figures in this search though line up with the film that it is an homage to The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly. Here we have a similar set up where we have Park Do-won(Jung Woo-sung) aka "The Good", a slightly more benevolent bounty hunter, Park Chang-yi (Lee Byung-hun) aka the man with the most amazing hair aka "The Bad", an amoral assassin, and then the grey this time given the moniker the weird played by Song Kang-ho. As with Eli Wallach as "The Ugly" in this film's predecessor, "The Weird" despite being neither the "black hat" or the "white hat" is granted the strongest perspective. This thankfully grants a rather off-beat protagonist of sorts for us to follow whose weirdness goes beyond his strange choice in outfit which stands in stark contrast to the more sort of western chic of his main opponents. His weirdness though is within the very nature of the character something the always reliable Song Kang-ho is more than willing to pull out with his performance. A performance that suits his titular name however this is within the very idea of the character which is well...weird. This is something that Song embraces in portraying this more than anything as the idiosyncrasies of the character that define Yoon in both in terms of his particular successes within the film but also even his particular stance within its story.

Song sets up well Yoon's nature from his first scene where he robs a train, just before Chang-yi's own planned robbery, and Do-won's plan to stop that robbery. From this setup it is obvious that Yoon is not necessarily a good person as he goes about robbing the train, using violence whenever needed. The sheer energy that Song brings to the role though seems to negate his technically selfish behavior in some way since Song is just so very endearing in the role. He completely throws himself into every moment in his wild charisma that he finds in the role as the bandit who doesn't care who he's ticking off as he just does things his way. Song captures just the right bit of madness in his work, that matches the character, and realizes a strange man just going about things his very peculiar and particular way. Song is a whole lot of fun to watch just perform here in every bit as he does make Yoon likable, perhaps beyond your own best judgement as viewer, through just how much he brings to every moment. Song delivers particularly well against his co-stars who are so intense which he plays off of so well as this mad man performing a bit of free jazz among a more refined orchestra. It's just a joy to watch Yoon become the most wanted man, through quite simply his desire for gold just like any proper bandit.

Although we only know a very basic outline of the man Song strings you along because of just how entertaining he is in the role, and it is very easy to go along with Yoon as he dodges bullets as well as all sorts of bandits, and armies in order to pursue the treasure himself. Every action scene in particular Song is such an essential part of through the sheer delightful flamboyance of his performance. I have particular affection for his downright hilarious way of performing a zig zag run as most misguided jig during one of the gunfight sequences. Song delivers the slapstick so well here in making it all part of just that crazed energy that is Yoon as a character. Song though is game for all sequences and makes them work even beyond just being such a humorous force throughout. The embodiment of the man's style somehow slowly leads to him becoming a hero of sorts, though "of sorts" being an essential note, as Song carefully plays these moments as rather unassuming if almost accidental. One such sequence being when he captures a group of children from potential exploiters. Song is great the scene though by making Yoon so very hapless in every moment, particular in his rather strange way of dispatching the evil doers in the sequence, but again it all feels natural to the way of the character which is basically just to go with his own very personal flow which can result in heroism at times, even if his central desire remains selfish as always.

Now a lot of Song's work here is fun and games, which is true to the character, however there is a bit more to the weird than meets the eye and this is mostly filtered through his relationships with his fellow title sharers. His scenes with Do-won are quite enjoyable often just for how wacky he is against the straight forward "hero" type. I particularly love the way Song plays with the way though at times there is almost sinister glint in his eyes when sizing up the man though as perhaps he's hiding something. He balances this though in the moments where he tries to endear himself to to Do-won, though one wonders if this is indeed a game of sorts, where Song delivers that off-beat insanity that works so well against Jung Woo-sung's stoicism in his role. There is also his relationship with the villainous Park Chang-yi who seems to have a vendetta against Yoon though the details of this are not revealed into the film's Mexican standoff. The truth eventually being that back in Korea Yoon was a vicious violent criminal specializing in finger cutting with Chang-yi being one of his victims. This revelation makes sense actually through Song's work which naturally segues in moments to a stronger menace, perhaps revealing a man with a darker past even if it isn't something his performance dwells on. This is fitting to his whole work where it is just part of the wayward flow of the character which Song portrays so naturally. I actually rather like that Song leaves it rather ambiguous to how villainous Yoon might have been at one time, with perhaps his more endearing act being just that, after all he isn't exactly heroic the rest of the time. Song doesn't give you an exact answer either way. He instead properly just stays, well, weird in the role, and what a great weirdo he is. This is just a terrific performance from Song Kang-ho that brings just the right spice that offers just the right entertainment and balance to the film.

32 comments:

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Your ratings/thoughts on the rest of the cast.

Michael McCarthy said...

REALLY hoping Lee gets a review. He's probably my #3 in supporting.

Also Louis, what did you think of Yoon's "tripping" scene? I was tempted to give Song a five just for that.

Calvin Law said...

Yeah I knew you'd dig this one. Song is a hoot, though I might have to re-watch and see if Lee grows even more in my esteem in re-watch. I think my favourite thing about the film might be its costume design and production design, both of which would actually be my wins.

As for the film as a whole I like it a great deal, though I wasn't a huge fan of a few of the plot detours and I think they could have cut off the ending earlier after the shooutout.

Bryan L said...

Meant to comment this in the previous post

Michael: Martindale would be great now that you mention it. Headey is a bit young for French.

Calvin: I like your choices for the supporting cast in your version of The Departed. Jesse Plemons could work as Barrigan too, I think.

Blunt- (Her performance in Edge of Tomorrow would show what she'd do as a Costigan-type, as she could deliver a hardened presence with the needed intensity.)

Hathaway- (I think whoever plays Sullivan needs to project a "goody two-shoes" vibe, which Hathaway would certainly deliver.)

Weaver- (No particular reason. I just think she would kill as someone like Costello haha)

Chastain-(Think Zero Dark Thirty. Also capable with rapid dialogue as evidenced by Mollys Game.)

Wright & McDormand- (Having rewatched Br:2049, I think Wright would indeed bring the proper authority and warmth for Queenan. McDormand could work for either.)

Wood- (I think she'd be a good fit.)

And Kathryn Bigelow as director, of course

Calvin Law said...

Also, your ranking of the Kim Jee-woon films you've seen? For me,

1. A Bittersweet Life
2. I Saw the Devil
3. The Good, the Bad and the Weird
4. The Age of Shadows
5. A Tale of Two Sisters
6. The Last Stand

Louis Morgan said...

Luke:

Saving Lee.

Jung - 3.5(His performance doesn't compare as well to say Eastwood in TGTBTU as his performance doesn't stand on its own. Where his performance does work though is in contrast to his co-stars particularly Song. His approach works best as the straight man towards Song's antics and in those scenes he acts as a great filter for what Song is doing. Again he's no Eastwood in terms of this type of role, but he's still decent even when completely on his own even if very much overshadowed within the trio.)

Ryu - 3(He's enjoyable as well in bringing a similair bent to Song as a man semi-nearing his wavelength. He brings the right undercurrent of mischievousness within his ease of interactions in his moments with Song.)

The minor performances are all good as well.

Michael:

Another delightful moment for Song as he successfully manages to make Yoon even more out of it for a scene, I particularly enjoy his sort of naivety he brings in the moment of Yoon in his interactions with his "assailants".

Calvin:

1. I Saw the Devil
2. A Bittersweet Life
3. The Good the Bad The Weird
4. The Age of Shadows
5. A Tale of Two Sisters
6. The Last Stand

Calvin Law said...

While we're on the note of alternative remakes, here's two for No Country for Old Men in the 2010s.

Bell: Frances McDormand (of course)
Chigurh: Vicky Krieps
Moss: Elizabeth Olsen
Moss' husband: James Badge Dale
Wells: Jennifer Jason Leigh
Wendell: Kate McKinnon

Bell: Gil Birmingham
Chigurh: Daniel Kaluuya
Moss: Zahn McClarnon
Carla: Betty Gabriel
Wells: Jesse Plemons
Wendell: Jimmi Simpson

Bryan L said...

Calvin: I was working on a female cast for No Country for Old Men as well! Do you see Gwendoline Christie as Chigurh?

Charles H said...

Very happy to see Lee getting a review. Love this film and all the performances.

Anonymous said...

Louis: I'm not sure if this is true but apparently the reason why The Punisher was set in Tampa was because of budget reasons or something. Also, thoughts on M. Butterfly, The Bonfire of Vanities and Fantomas as missed opportunities.

Robert MacFarlane said...

Louis: See any recent releases?

Calvin Law said...

Saw Annihilation, I don't despise it or anything but it was pretty underwhelming for the most part.

Calvin Law said...

Bryan: I could see Christie in the role.

RatedRStar said...

Did I miss a scene in Annihilation where Gina Rodriguez managed to overpower 3 people and tie them up?

RatedRStar said...

Avengers VIP tickets booked =D, Daniel Bryan cleared to wrestle again and surely will at Wrestlemania, The Jungle Book nearly confirmed to be the next Kingdom Hearts world, happy days =D

Luke Higham said...

RatedRStar: AJ/Shinsuke and Asuka/Charlotte is all I care about. If Cena and Reigns win their respective matches against Taker and Lesnar, then I'm completely done with WWE. I've had it up to here with them, especially Cena. 13 years on top is beyond ridiculous.

Luke Higham said...

RatedRStar: And I don't care enough to see Bryan/Shane vs. Kevin/Sami. Shane's been too much of a hindrance this past year.

Calvin Law said...

RatedRStar: the least of my problems of that scene. Also, Louis is way too kind on Thompson, she deserves the same grade as Rodriguez. Leigh is a bit better in terms of I could kind of see what she was going for. Novotny was pretty good with what little she had, and actually didn't mind Portman, thought she was pretty good in the final act, though miscast. Oscar Isaac and David Gyasi were embarrassingly wooden significant others, and Isaac was downright terrible in those 'catatonic' scenes. Benedict Wong's voice was welcome in a sci fi film as always.

Mitchell Murray said...

Isle of Dogs is getting a warm reception so far, so I'm going to make a prediction I think is sound: Just like 2016 with The Jungle Book and Civil War, Scarlett Johansson will somehow give a better performance off screen than on.

Calvin Law said...

I'm seeing it next Monday and am so psyched.

RatedRStar said...

Louis: Honestly though how did that scene happen, a voice over is talking and then suddenly, 3 of the characters are tied up lol WTF =D did they just sit there and let Rodriguez tie them up lol.

Calvin: I really think the acting is what truly sinks the film, Leigh unfortunately plays her depression as just boring, usually when I see depression portrayed it is like " brilliant acting truly moving" with her it was just making me fall asleep.

Luke: Reigns is 100% percent winning, Cena isnt guaranteed but I think he will still win.

John Smith said...

Watched 'Fantastic Beasts'. I was surprised by how much I liked and enjoyed Redmayne's performance.

Bryan L said...

Louis: How do you think each of these actors would do with the part of Frank Booth? I asked about McConaughey, Brolin and Rockwell previously, but I have a couple more in mind.

Russell Crowe
Robert Downey Jr.
Nicolas Cage
Phillip Seymour Hoffman

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Who would be your choice to play Quint in an 80s/90s/00s/10s Jaws.

Luke Higham said...

Guys, Are there any years that you could see a change in Louis' Best Picture Choices. I've got two, 1982 (Fanny & Alexander/Fitzcarraldo) and 2006 (Inland Empire).

Luke Higham said...

Everyone: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=mwgUesU1pz4

Anonymous said...

Louis: Past film roles for Daniel Day-Lewis? Also 5 most intriguing younger actors right now?

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Your thoughts on the ending of 300 (Battle Speech).

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

Luke: If Louis takes as much of a liking to Spirited Away as I hope he does, that might become his choice for 2001 (or at least make the top 3).

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

Luke: Also, colour me intrigued upon seeing that trailer. Although, I am pretty psyched to see Garfield in any film these days :)

Mitchell Murray said...

You know I got to say.. up until the Amazing Spiderman 2 I kind of wrote off Garfield. But in the past few years he's been making some really interesting choices, and now that we can say "oscar nominee Andrew Garfield" its probably only going to get more intriguing from here. So at the very least.. I'm interested.

Louis Morgan said...

Calvin:

Saying this in all good humor. I find it pretty funny how much flak you guys I giving me for "praising" a 2.5 performance in regards to Thompson.

Anonymous:

M. Butterfly just seems like Cronenberg was all wrong for that story which needed a director with a greater perhaps lighter type of flamboyance. It was even potentially cast well with Lone/Irons however the central tone was just so off it was a waste of material with potential.

It is hilarious to hear De Palma talk about The Bonfire of Vanities as he basically admits to undercutting the source material due to his awareness of the commercial failure of "Sweet Smell of Success", which seems like an odd film to avoid trying to make given one would imagine there was at least some change in audiences from the 50's to the 90's.

Robert:

Unfortunately no.

RatedRStar:

I guess she had just perfect knockout accuracy with her rifle.

Bryan:

Russell Crowe - (Don't really see it as, this sounds odd, but he seems too "big" for Frank Booth.)

Downey Jr. - (Have no idea on this one since Downey certainly has the right type of energy as a performer, and a whole lot of untapped talent. I'd certainly love to see him take on a deranged role in a good film at some point.)

Cage - (He is perhaps simply the correct choice since in many ways he's sort of the modern Dennis Hopper in terms of both performance style and being prolific to a fault.)

Hoffman - (Again with Crowe he just doesn't seem the right type for Booth.)

Luke:

80's: Dennis Hopper
90's: Rutger Hauer
00's: Viggo Mortensen
10's: Russell Crowe

The film has problems but this is quite an ending. In that is one grand speech impeccably delivered by David Wenham. It really is absurd grandeur in the best sense, amplified perhaps by the man in my original theatrical experience yelling "FOR FREEDOM" at the cut to black.

Anonymous:

Most roles, but to specify Andrew Wyke, Henry II, and Howard Beale.

You can take my top five from the previous post.