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Good, Bad, and Weird Blockbuster Techniques
A look into the Asian Blockbuster
A look into the Asian Blockbuster
A blockbuster film is a film like no other. The culture of the blockbuster was cultivated in Hollywood and quickly spread throughout the world. Creating a film bigger, better, and more brilliant than any before it was a very attractive thing for producers of films. This is one of the major reasons these large-scale productions are now being made in so many different countries around the world. In this class, we have focused primarily on the Asian blockbusters and how they have developed apart from the Hollywood scene. While there are many similarities that seem to have been copied over from the Hollywood culture of the blockbuster, there are also many unique pieces that have been added by the Asian film culture as well. We will use Kim Jee-woon’s The Good, the Bad, the Weird as a platform to show multiple different characteristics of the Asian blockbuster formally, technically, industrially, and as a spectacle.
When looking back on The Good, the Bad, the Weird, I noticed immediately that it was a copy of the 1966 Sergio Leone film, The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. Both were western films about three men with peculiar personalities and the encounters they have with each other. One particular scene I found strikingly similar as the scene where the three men have a standoff. This was in the latter mid-section of The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly and in the final scene of The Good, the Bad, the Weird. The shot that made me realize how similar they were was the extreme close-up pan of each man’s eyes. This is similar in both films and made me realize that the director was intentionally copying the parts of the film that made it unique. The copying is an obvious indicator that Kin Jee-woon was looking to take a film made before the blockbuster that was pretty popular, and turn it into a global blockbuster through copying the techniques used in the film.
When viewing the film as a technical production, one can’t help but integrate the film as a spectacle as well. As you can see throughout the film, there are multiple evidences that show that this film was technically produced to be a blockbuster. Some of these facts include a high production cost, estimated at $10 million, the high status actors, Kang-ho song, Byung-hun lee, and Woo-sung Jung, and the use of many pieces/scenes from the previous film as discussed earlier. All of these elements are used to create a blockbuster. Doing everything in an over-the-top manner will help make a film like no other that can’t be categorized in any other way. The reason this film could be considered an Asian blockbuster is because it is blatantly copying one of Hollywood’s successful films. This is a common thing done with Asian films, and it was done in this one.
This film is definitely a spectacle. As we discussed in class, a blockbuster is a film that goes over the top with explosions, actors, money, and has typical characters with a simple plot line that is easy to follow. We see in the last scene with the standoff that there are a lot of big explosions with what was supposed to be the hidden treasure. We also see a lot of big stunts throughout the movie; for example, when Byung-hun lee is flying around attached to a rope and shooting people, it creates an awe factor that is unique to blockbusters. This part also is similar to the multiple Asian blockbuster films that use lines in their movies to fly people around. It could potentially be using that same effect but in a more realistic and therefore more scary way. Another quality that we see in this film that resembles many Asian blockbusters is the use of light comedy. We see this throughout this film. One prominent example is when Kang-ho song puts on the scuba mask to deflect bullets. It is a light-hearted piece of comedy that keeps the film interesting and new. It definitely resembles a Jackie Chan film. Jackie Chan always uses the things around him to fight with, and often times it turns out to look awkward but funny. This kind of heartwarming comedy seems to be an attribute of many Asian films, something that isn’t in as many Hollywood films. This difference is also apparent in the cover photos of the film Shiri in both Korea and America. In America, they were pushing the sexuality of the film while in Korea they were pushing the popularity of the actors. It seems like America enjoys more seriousness, intensity, and vulgar humor rather than lighthearted comedy, and that is most likely the main reason why The Good, the Bad, the Weird didn’t do nearly as well in America as it did in China.
So, with all the hype about global blockbusters, it is interesting that there is so much difference in the taste of countries to this day. As time goes on, and globalization of every country continues to grow stronger, it is possible that more films we been seen globally and our tastes will continue to grow together. If this happens, then the blockbuster will become a much bigger part of people’s lives and will more likely be even bigger in its unique attributes than it is now. For this film, we see through its use of three big stars, it’s outrageous and semi-funny stunts, it’s large explosions, it’s high budget, and it’s global release that it is definitely a blockbuster. We see that it’s use of light-hearted comedy and almost shot for shot copying of a western American film that it contains the elements to qualify it as an Asian blockbuster film. Whether or not it became a major success in America, it still contains all the qualities needed to make it a large-scale film, and that is why The Good, the Bad, the Weird will go down in history as one of the great Asian blockbuster films.