The Good, The Bad, and The Weird , Ji-woon Kim’s comedic homage to Sergio Leone’s westerns, is one of the most satisfying cheesy movies I’ve seen so far (and I sure do love my cheesy action-comedies). It may be more absurd than most films I’ve come across recently, but, with its enthusiastic energy and hilarity, suspension of disbelief came easier than I could have expected. As soon as I got the feel for how this movie works, I was totally into it until the end.

The story, set in the 1930s Manchuria, revolves around a treasure map, which is hunted by the movie’s assortment of crazy characters. The Bad (Byung-hun Lee), a suave hitman with a rather modern fashion-mullet, is hired to acquire it, but The Weird, a spazzy thief (Kang-ho Song) gets to it first. Manchurian bandits and the Japanese Imperial Army are also after the map, while The Good (Woo-sung Jung) is out to claim bounty on The Bad. The pursuit escalates to awesomely ridiculous proportions.

The action is just over-the-top enough ““ instead of seeming like they were trying too hard to come up with the most outlandish stunt for the next scene, there is a spirit of abandon and even spontaneity that makes it truly enjoyable to watch. There are some memorable scenes for those who appreciate action timing and choreography. All the western-movie references are quite expertly and creatively arranged, and flow well with the story. When making a clear homage movie, it can be hard for a director to know when to bust out the tropes, how subtle or unsubtle to be, without inducing an exasperated “Oh, I see what you did there” in the audience. Ji-woon Kim definitely succeeds in that regard. Moreover, the movie works aside from the focus on the genre it’s paying tribute to; it still would have come across well if the homage aspect was toned down, or if it wasn’t there entirely.

The humour of the movie doesn’t feel forced either, and there is a healthy balance of it with the other elements. Some jokes are familiar, some I actually did not see coming, and they’re all extremely well-timed so that nothing seems out of place. The cast appears to be having so much fun with the humour, which adds an extra bit of naturalness to their delivery. The Weird is the biggest source of the funny, and is possibly the most watchable character in the film. His antics are highly entertaining, rather than predictably wacky and dumb, and you’re not entirely sure what his deal is. I guess it would have been a bit of a letdown if he wasn’t actually weird.

The tone of the movie doesn’t slow down throughout the whole thing, but, through its masterful arrangement of all its aspects, it never gets tiresome. Maybe a theater atmosphere in the company of your friends is best for sustaining interest in the action and the silliness, though I can see it being exciting anywhere else, whenever you’re in the mood for this type of thing. The movie ran at Bloor Cinema for a week (August 6-12), and is coming out on DVD August 17th.