On Sunday, I got to see the Cannes version of the film, then on Monday was the official press and VIP premiere at the Yongsan CGV. The new version of the film is only slightly different, with a small addition at the opening and an additional scene at the ending... nothing too huge, but they improve the movie, I thought. Especially the new ending.
As for the story itself, it is pretty basic (and well described in earlier reviews). Set in 1930s Manchuria, TGTBTW is the story of a hidden treasure map and the three guys hunting for it. Jung Woo-sung plays "The Good," and does a great job pulling off the action scenes and stunts (he apparently broke him arm filming the big action sequence in the middle of the film). Lee Byung-hun is the cool assassin, aka "The Bad," hired by the pro-Japanese businessman to get the man. And Song Gang-ho is suitably weird as "The Weird," a ball of chaotic energy who stumbles across the map early in the movie.
In addition, there are rival gangs, the Japanese authorities, the occasional opium dealer and more to add to the energetic mix.
Okay, it is not a perfect film... it does drag a little in a couple of places and there are several scenes that would not hold up to careful analysis or logic. But it is more than enough fun to compensate for those problems. Definitely raises the bar for Korean movies (at least for blockbusters).
Most amazingly for a Korean movie, TGTBTW has no annoying crying scenes, nor does it end in tears. Seriously, think about it. I cannot think of any movie in the Korean top 25 that did not end with a climatic weepy scene. Maybe D-WAR, but that film was an oddball in every way (plus I was laughing at the film so much, it is hard to remember what the director intended). TAZZA, perhaps... But THE GOOD, THE BAD, THE WEIRD is all fun and totally worthwhile.
UPDATE: Just got it confirmed from CJ Entertainment that TGTBTW will be showing at Yongsan CGV with English subtitles, starting July 17 (opening day). So check it out.