Friday Flicks is a one of our Periodicals, in which we decided to start up because of our love for Asian cinema.
What we do with Friday Flicks will be similar to what other websites do with film reviews, except we won’t give a grade or score. Rather, we will tell you what we like and what we don’t like about the film. Our main goal is to spread the awesomeness of Asian cinema, creating new fans and introducing new films to existing ones.
We plan on talking about films from all across Asia (including Japan, Korea, China, Thailand, The Philippines, etc), both old and new. We basically want to make Asian film fans out of you.
One last note: These reviews will have minor spoilers. We intend to not reveal any major plot twists or story lines. Yet, a movie review is nearly impossible to do without talking about about the story even at little.
That being said, let’s get the show on the road!
This week’s Friday Flick: The Thieves
Original Title: 도둑들
Languages:Korean, Japanese English,
Genres:Crime, Heist, Action
Main Cast:Kim Yun-seok
- The film was shot on location in Seoul, Busan, Hong Kong, and Macau.
- Though often compared to the Hollywood heist film Ocean’s Eleven, director Choi Dong-hoon considers The Thieves closer to his previous films The Big Swindle and Tazza: The High Rollers.
- Director Choi admits that he was intimidated at first with working with the high profile actors.
- Currently, it’s Korea’s #2 most watched domestic film in history, with #1 being Bong Joon-ho’s The Host.
- The film went on to be nominated for and win numerous awards.
Popeye (Lee Jung-jae) and his partners in crime are master thieves who steal valuable and rare treasures and sell them off to the highest bidder. After their latest heist, he accepts a job that will take his crew overseas to Macau.
However, the mastermind behind this new job is Macau Park (Kim Yun-seok), Popeye’s old partner who turned and ran off with 68 kg of gold several years ago, leaving Popeye and Pepsi (Kim Hye-su), their accomplice and Macau Park’s old flame, hanging dry.
The job involves stealing a 20 million USD diamond called the Tear of the Sun, which is safely guarded in a casino to be sold by a mysterious Chinese fence named Wei Hong. Altogether, Macau Park assembles a huge team from both Korea and China for this elaborate job.
Each thief plots their own agenda, including Popeye and Pepsi, who plan on stealing the diamond for themselves to payback Macau Park for abandoning them. Who will succeed, and who will walk away with nothing?
The Thieves is often called the Ocean’s Eleven of Korea, and in many ways that nickname holds true. However, the film is different enough from its Hollywood counterpart that the audience will be able to find plenty of moments to keep them entertained and surprised until the film’s end.
Just like Ocean’s Eleven, The Thieves features an ensemble cast. Led by Kim Yun-seok, each individual adds diversity not only in the overall dynamic of the group but also in their own character’s role and specialty. Fans will instantly recognize Jun Ji-hyun of My Sassy Girl fame, as this is her first role in a Korean film in the past four years. She takes a departure from her usual homely girl-types of roles to play Anycall – the trashy and seductive, yet agile-as-a-cat sneak thief.
The dialogue between the characters is very entertaining, as they are constantly either talking trash to each other, or just plain messing around, setting off some humorous moments of clashing and arguing. It is this clashing that sets the tone for their “comradery”, with the fragile glue holding them together being the wealth promised by Macau Park. This is what primarily sets The Thieves apart from Ocean’s Eleven, as in the latter film the band of thieves cooperate and work together, whereas in this film you are constantly on the edge of your seat anticipating what someone might do to compromise the plan. The constant guessing of what each thief has planned next is what totally drives The Thieves.
Just like many Korean films, The Thieves is guilty of using the “genre flip”, in which it feels that the genre changes from one dynamic to another throughout the course of the story. The biggest perpetrators are romantic films, which mostly start off as light-hearted comedies, then partway through the story takes a dramatic turn that will turn your eyes into waterfalls. The Thieves starts off as a fun, entertaining heist with clever quips and hot women, but then takes a turn into the Jason Bourne-realm of action films, filled with shootouts, intense stunt work, and even death.
The shift in genre might be a bit hard to accept at first, but by the end all is forgiven because the characters and action sequences are just too damn cool.
I mean, just look at these guys!
The film will have you not only constantly guessing everyone’s true motives, but also placing bets on who will walk away with the prize. The Thieves does an excellent job with not peeling away all the layers of mystery and questions until the final scene.
It’s a thief’s nature to steal, but the fun is seeing how one thief steals from another.
Watch this film…
…to see two hours of badassery, coolness, and Jun Ji-hyun.