AsianMovieWeb logo
Original Title:

South Korea 2000

Crime, Comedy

Jung Cho Sin

Yun Da Hun
Kim Sang Jung
Park Jun Gyu
Lim Chang Jung
Jin Hee-kyung
Kim Se Jun
Lee Jae-un

Search AsianMovieWeb


Story: Sa Hyun (Yun Da Hun) is vice-president of a bank and plans a bank-robbery. When he goes into the strongroom, however, he runs into the gangster Blue (Lim Chang Jung) trying to rob the bank himself. Together with his yet undiscovered accomplices he dug a tunnel to the strongroom, but the vice-president interferes with his perfect plan. Sa Hyun wants to hand over Blue to the police, along with the stolen money. The police, though, arrives at the crime scene astoundingly fast and take Sa Hyun and Blue with them for questioning.
It becomes apparent that the two policeman are actually the gangsters Hae Ryong (Kim Sang Jung) and his brother Du san (Park Jun Gyu), who wanted to mug the bank themselves by disguising as the police. Since this didn't went the way it was supposed to, they kidnapped the vice-president on the spot and are now demanding a ransom.
Is it really a coincidence that three seemingly unrelated parties, all acting on their own, wanted to rob the same bank at the same time? Or is there more behind it?

Review: "Jakarta" is a well-wrought gangster comedy with lots of twists and a story that can keep you bound to your seat for about 90 minutes. The first half of the film is about the bank robbery itself and is without any real tension. You won't get bored, but we are in no way interested in the characters, yet. At least, the scenes in the warehouse bear an uncanny likeness to "Reservoir Dogs" and even if they aren't as ingenious as in Tarantino's movie, they surely can be entertaining. We get to know the different characters, or rather an inaccurate sketch of them, so that there is always a certain distance between the audience and the protagonists.

However, it's in the second half of the film, when the events before and during the robbery are told and retold in flashbacks, that the movie really picks up some pace. We get to know more about the background of the several characters, in what kind of relationship they are with each other and what their motivations are. Along the way there prove to be lots of well done twists and revelations, that will make you realize that only now you are able to comprehend the meaning of the events in the first half of the movie. Which also leads to the fact that the focus becomes completely shifted. Who once was a bad guy, now is a good one and the other way round.
Who is screwing who how and why is told with a lot of wit, and even though the flashbacks are sometimes a bit sudden and unpredictable you never lose track of what's going on. With every explanation there is a new layer added to the story and just when we thought to have reached the core, there is another surprise jumping right into your face. This makes it really worthwhile to pay attention. Nevertheless, at the end you shouldn't bother to think about every little fact, because the sheer amount of twists, ultimately just has to include several logical missteps, which luckily doesn't carry that much of a weight.

While Lim Chang Jung does provide us with quite some charismatic performance and the viewer instantly can weave an emotional bond to him, this unfortunately isn't the case with every actor/actress. Red and White just can't engage our interest and at times they can even be really annoying. Since they don't have so much screen time this is not so important, but it's different with Sa Hyun, the vice-president, who is an awfully boring and shallow character. There are only a few scenes in which he can show a little bit of himself, however, having one of the leading roles, his portrayal is just disappointing.
The most interesting character is Hae Ryong, who as the quite and coldblooded gangster can make quite some impression along with his dotty and clumsy brother Du San. Kim Sang Jung with time shows more and more of his human side and at the end we almost grow fond of him, which at the beginning would have been completely unthinkable.
The cast of the movie indeed include some few very talented actors, nonetheless, on the whole some more good actors wouldn't have been that bad. Or maybe it's just the script's fault, which drew the characters just too shallow and unconvincing.

Director Jung Cho Sin, who later made the two "Wet Dreams" movies, doesn't focus on comedy in his debut, but instead delivers an intelligent gangster flick with lots of twist, so that until the very end you have to ask yourself who's fooling who. You can also make out that this is not your typical comedy by looking at the somewhat drab colors and the dreary setting, which is absolutely uncommon for Korean movies of this genre. Nevertheless, there are a handful of funny moments, which can even make you cry out loud.

Unfortunately, the film has its downsides, as the already mentioned cast, which wasn't the best choice at times, and some pacing problems in the first half of the movie. Anyway, there are also some upsides that can without a doubt outweigh the flaws. The narrative structure of "Jakarta" does add a lot to the tension and thrill. Moreover, some small tricks like short animations in the flashbacks will keep you entertained. Numerous aha-reactions and clever entanglements make this movie a good choice for a successful couch evening.

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
Buy this movie:

Yesasia Logo