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The Thieves - Movie Poster
Original Title:

South Korea 2012

Action, Thriller, Comedy

Choi Dong-hoon

Kim Yoon-seok
Kim Hye-soo
Lee Jeong-jae
Jeon Ji-hyeon
Simon Yam
Kim Hae-sook
Oh Dal-soo
Kim Soo-hyeon
Angelica Lee
Derek Tsang
Joo Jin-mo

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The Thieves

Story: Popie (Lee Jeong-jae) sets up a group of professionals consisting of Yenicall (Jeon Ji-hyeon), Chewing Gum (Kim Hae-sook) and Jampano (Kim Soo-hyeon). His old partner Macao Park (Kim Yoon-seok) wants to steal a precious diamond from a casino in Macao and needs the whole team for the operation. Also joining the group is Pepsee (Kim Hye-soo), who has just been released from prison after she had to serve a few years time because of Park. But tensions aren't only welling up between Popie, Park and Pepsee. The group is also joining hands with some Hong Kong professionals led by Chen (Simon Yam). If they should succeed in stealing the diamond Park has already a potential buyer. However, planning the heist proves to be difficult since there are several variables to be considered. What the group doesn't consider in their planning is that some of the group's members have their very own agenda. There seem to be traitors at every corner and accordingly the heist doesn't go that smoothly...

Review: At first "The Thieves" makes the impression of being a cheap over-the-edge imitation of the "Ocean's" series, centering around a smart coup in which not every party is pulling in the same direction. Yet, your initial concerns turn out to be groundless. Not only does the cast include numerous stars, the action is breathtaking as well and at times even reminds you of merciless Hong Kong action thrillers. The screenplay is in fact smart, although it comes with the mandatory plot holes. Its self-confidence and the technically flawless realisation make "The Thieves" a well achieved blockbuster, which manages to make an especially good use of its appeal in front of an international audience. You shouldn't expect perfection, but a fun ride is guaranteed.

The Thieves - Film Screenshot 11

First and foremost it's the star-studded cast that stands out. In the beginning Kim Yoon-seok ("The Chaser") takes somewhat of a backseat, but especially later on he plays himself into the foreground in the kind of pleasant way we know him for. Kim Hye-soo ("Villain and Widow") and Lee Jeong-jae ("The Face Reader") naturally pale in comparison to him. However, not only because of the love triangle this trio is responsible for making us constantly guess what's going on. For a very long time you can't be sure of who the good and who the bad guys are. Because of their sheer quantity the characters may often remain archetypical, but there are still enough shades of grey to make us be torn between them and in fact we develop an interest in the lives of the thieves. Their lives may remain in the dark for most part or are at best touched upon, but there is still some elaboration to be found here.

The Thieves - Film Screenshot 12

Then there is also Jeon Ji-hyeon ("The Berlin File") of course, who skillfully plays with her sexual appeal, and for the female audience we have Kim Soo-hyeon ("Secretly Greatly"). Thanks to the fact that the movie also takes place in Hong Kong a lot Simon Yam ("Exiled") and Angelica Lee ("Out of Inferno") also get some interesting supporting roles. But it's not just when Simon Yam starts shooting around that you get the feeling as if sitting in a Hong Kong movie. The locations and the action in general often remind you of pictures from the former British crown colony. But from time to time the movie also takes place in Macao, which is why "The Thieves" puts together a few very nice characteristic locations.

The big action scenes are scattered throughout the movie in a very balanced manner. If you think that the heist of the casino in the middle of the movie is the highlight, you will find yourself surprised by a showdown that even tops this with a climbing scene at a wall of an apartment complex. The action is inventive and merciless whenever it needs to be. Especially thanks to the chosen locations and the high budget "The Thieves" can easily stand its ground against Hollywood movies. With the difference that the Korean flick may have a lot of humoristic moments in store in the beginning, but becomes more and more serious towards the end and at times even surprisingly gritty. Yet, there is no need to fear that the movie might overstep the line of a complete breach of style. There is a nice balance here as well.

The Thieves - Film Screenshot 13

Director Choi Dong-hoon has already proven with "Jeon Woochi: The Taoist Wizard" that he is capable of delivering entertaining stuff that yet doesn't stick with you for long. However, this time he is assisted by an impressive cast, a screenplay that certainly can be called smart with sleek dialogues and fast-paced action as well as an international flair, all helping him to create something clearly above average. Despite its bold running time of 136 minutes there isn't really any lengthy scene and the characters are all likeable in their own way as well. With its ending "The Thieves" manages to satisfy, too, and doesn't just head into the direction of a comedy. "The Thieves" is thus a good action thriller with the necessary amount of humor, a movie you can't go wrong with.

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
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