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Original vs Remake: Good, Bad, Ugly/Good, Bad, Weird

Updated on November 6, 2014

Good, Bad, Ugly Trailer (1966)

The only problem I have with this trailer is that Lee Van Cleef and Eli Wallach's titles are switched. Lee is supposed to be The Bad and Eli, The Ugly. But hey, it's the 60s.

Good, Bad, Weird Trailer (2008)

THE GOOD - Clint Eastwood (1966) and Woo-sung Jung (2008)
THE GOOD - Clint Eastwood (1966) and Woo-sung Jung (2008)
THE BAD - Lee Van Cleef (1966) and Byung-hun Lee (2008)
THE BAD - Lee Van Cleef (1966) and Byung-hun Lee (2008)
THE UGLY/WEIRD - Eli Wallach (1966) and Kang-ho Song (2008)
THE UGLY/WEIRD - Eli Wallach (1966) and Kang-ho Song (2008)

(Italy) The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (1966)

Starring: Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef, and Eli Wallach

Directed by: Sergio Leone

(Korea) The Good, the Bad, the Weird (2008)

Starring: Kang-ho Song, Byung-hun Lee, and Woo-sung Jung

Directed by: Jee-woon Kim

Some people ask what is the difference between a Western and a Spaghetti Western? Well, Westerns are made here in the United States while Spaghetti Westerns are made in Europe, mostly by Italians, hence the name Spaghetti Western. Also called Italian Westerns.

Italians were fascinated by the American Western genre and wanted to try their hands at it. The Spaghetti Western genre stretched from 1959 to 1980. Mostly staring American actors who were at a low point in their careers. Not many of them premiered in the US until a rising director, named Sergio Leone, redefined the entire Western genre the with The Dollars Trilogy (1964-1966). Westerns usually had brave heroic gunslingers coming into town and end up killing the bad guy, who was causing trouble in the town, and falling for the female. The Dollars Trilogy introduced us to the antihero and created a nameless lead character, played by the one and only Clint Eastwood, that would be defined as The Man With No Name. Clint Eastwood's performance, plus the lack of knowledge about his character's past and what he was capable of, made the character all the more intimidating.

While the first two movies were great (Fistful of Dollars [1964] and For a Few Dollars More [1965]), it's the third film, The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, that became a smash hit. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly needs no introduction. It is the greatest Spaghetti Western of all time and one of the all-around greatest Westerns of all time.

So why have there not been more remakes? Everything gets remade these days! Maybe because it was so memorable that they didn’t think any remake would be able to top it? Well, Korean director Jee-woon Kim (The Last Stand [2013], with Arnold Schwartzenegger) took up the challenge, with The Good, the Bad, the Weird.

The plot is very simple. Ugly takes place during the American Civil War and is about three lone bounty hunters (Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef, and Eli Wallach [God rest his soul]) discovering clues to a buried treasure. The hunters are each given a different clue to its whereabouts, which leaves them no choice but to work together to find it.

Weird follows the same plot, except it takes place in 1930s Manchuria and instead of using clues to find the treasure, the three gunmen (Kang-ho Song, Byung-hun Lee [Storm Shadow in the G.I. Joe movies], and Woo-sung Jung) are after a treasure map. But they’re not the only ones who want it. Other gunmen, bandits, and even the Japanese army are after it too.

Weird stays loyal to the story of Ugly, but tells it in a different way that makes it feel fresh and new. The movie is fast paced with a lot of heart pounding action and explosions. It’s able to tell the story in just over two hours while it took Ugly three. Plus, Ugly dragged through most of the film with a lot of drama and not enough shooting. Of course, this can work to the film’s advantage at points. You will be sitting there, waiting for something to happen and when it does happen it feels like an event. But when it comes down to it, I’d rather have a movie that is fast paced than a movie that takes forever to tell a story.

Ugly takes it’s time introducing its three main characters. The beginning gives a separate introduction for each character, which causes the intro to go on for about a half hour before the story actually gets moving.

Weird, however, introduces all three characters simultaneously, during a train robbery.

While the acting in Ugly may be corny and over the top, you remember everything about them. Weird on the other hand, gives nothing special about any of the characters that make them stand out. They’re just average gunmen trying to find a lost treasure. It’s not to say the Weird actors don’t do a great job, it’s just that they don’t bring anything new to the table that separates them from any other western gunslinger. While the Weird’s characters are enjoyable, it’s the Ugly ones that leave the stronger impression.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (1966)
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (1966)
The Good, the Bad, the Weird (2008)
The Good, the Bad, the Weird (2008)

The Mexican Standoff is the most famous scene in Ugly. As far as my knowledge goes, no one had ever seen the three-way shootout performed on the screen, until this movie came out. It was always just a two-way shootout with the good guy and the bad guy. The standoff in Ugly is more memorable. I just love the tone and the atmosphere of it. For the last thirty minutes of the film we focus on just the three main characters. Everyone else seems to have fallen off the face of the earth, leaving these three men the only ones left in the world. The fact that the standoff happens in a cemetery helps encourage that feeling.

In Weird, the standoff is less memorable. It just feels like the three men are having a shootout in the middle of the desert and it doesn’t present the same kind of spark as with Ugly. On the plus side, the Weird standoff is “quicker on the draw” while in Ugly, they just stand there for about three minutes staring at each other waiting for the other two to make the first move. But the part about the Weird standoff that stands out the most is the outcome.

One question that I need to ask about Ugly is why is there no intermission? Like I stated before, the movie is three hours long! It's not like intermissions were unheard of back then. There were intermissions way before the movie's time (Gone With the Wind [1939], Seven Samurai [1954], and Ben Hur [1959]) and even after the movie's time (Patton [1970], Godfather Part II [1974], and Monty Python and the Holy Grail [1975]). It's a thought that always bothered me.

The two films basically even each other out. The problems that one of the films has are corrected in the other. But what it comes down to is that Ugly was more groundbreaking on cinema history.

Weird isn’t the best Korean movie (Oldboy [2003]), but it’s the movie that got me into Korean media. If you've seen Ugly, I'd recommend watching Weird. As far as remakes go, it was quite satisfying.

Winner: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Overall Review:

Good, Bad, Ugly: 4/5

Good, Bad, Weird: 4/5


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      Dixie Burge 9 months ago

      I have no patience with remakes of groundbreaking movies that are just about perfect in every way, such as The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. How can you improve on, or even compete with, perfection (or near-perfection)? And by the way, that's the reason it had no intermission. It didn't need one. I can watch all 3 hours, stay glued to the screen and still hate for it to end. I have not see The Good, the Bad and the Weird, and I feel no need to. Why bother with calendar art when you can have a master painting for the same price?