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 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.