[Welcome to Duty Free Movies, a new little corner of Cinematical where we'll be highlighting quality import discs from around the world. Given my bend for horror, sci-fi, and Asian movies, a good number of imports on my shelf fall under that realm, but I'll do my best to spread the love around to other genres as well. Note: Depending on where you buy the title from, you will likely have to pay tax on the disc; I just like the name Duty Free Movies.]

Hopefully you've already seen Ji-Woon Kim's (A Bittersweet Life, A Tale of Two Sisters) delightful genre-bender The Good, The Bad, The Weird in one capacity or another. This stylish Korean riff on spaghetti westerns and heist films starring Kang-ho Song (The Host, Memories of Murder), Byung-hun Lee (G.I. Joe, A Bittersweet Life), and Woo-sung Jung (Restless, A Moment to Remember) made laps around the festival circuit in 2008, but it's been lacking US distribution since then. IFC will be giving the film a theatrical run in NYC this April, but there's no reason to wait that long when there is a superb Blu-ray available from Korea for the reasonable price of ~$33.

Now to preempt any doubt, yes, this particular disc will play in your Region A Blu-ray player without any special equipment or region-code finagling, because, well, it's a Region A disc. In fact, my PS3 is relishing in its beauty as I type, so if the last half of this post is filled with typos, it's because I've gotten drunk off the lush, 7.1 DTS-HD sound mix. The disc itself is the first in a new line of Limited Edition Blu-ray discs from Korea's CJ Entertainment.

It comes in a rather striking package featuring a slick slipcase utilizing the familiar The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly dynamic for its art work. The spine of the cover is numbered 001, a design move that should play right into the addiction most collectors know all too well (the second entry is Joon-ho Bong's Memories of Murder, which I'll be featuring in a later edition of Duty Free Movies). The internals are nice and sturdy, unlike several Criterion Blu-rays I've seen that are a bit too papery and are easily damaged, and comes with a set of ten postcards printed on a heavy stock that look like the lobby cards from TGTBTW's official selection at the Cannes Film Festival.

All of that's just bonus as far as I'm concerned, however, as the only thing of real importance here is the disc. The menus are in their native language, so playing around with them is a little trial-and-error for a non-Korean reader, but the film itself comes with a flawless set of English subtitles that can be easily accessed with the subtitle button on your remote. The film proper is the 129 minute International Cut, but what little was excised from the more localized Korean cut (such as an alternate ending) can be found as deleted scenes. You'll have to be fluent in Korean to experience most of the special features, but the list is impressive even if there is a language barrier:

  • Audio Commentary by Director, Cinematographer, Art Director
  • Audio Commentary by Director, Song Kang Ho, Lee Byung Hun, Jung Woo Sung
  • Making Of
  • Cinematography and Lighting Featurette
  • Art and Costume Featurette
  • Sound Featurette
  • Deleted Scenes with Audio Commentary
  • Alternate Ending
  • Trailer
It's a bummer that the non-HD featurettes lack subtitles, but that really is the only drawback. For a little over $30 (not including any applicable tax or shipping -- YesAsia will do free shipping if you go over a certain amount; a disarmingly easy accomplishment for someone like me) you can finally own a copy of The Good, The Bad, the Weird that should have no hiccups in any off-the-shelf Blu-ray player here in the States (the UK and French Blus do not). The presentation of it all is a treat, the video transfer is everything you expect from the medium, and the sound mix is bombastic in all the right ways. Oh, and the movie itself is an indisputable triumph guaranteed to put a constant smile on the face of any and all viewers.

Buy it here, should you be so inclined. Hint, you should be.