ICE ICE BABY
In the Joseon Dynasty, ice is a commodity that’s more precious than gold. Blocks of it are harvested from the frozen rivers in the winter and put into storage protected by royal guards who distribute and sell it throughout the year. When corrupt officials conspire to form a monopoly and fix its price, a gang of 11 plot to steal the ice right underneath them.
I feel like these days if you’ve seen one caper movie, you’ve seen ‘em all. But this Ocean’s Eleven takes us back in time to the Joseon era. The English title is actually The Grand Heist which they changed from the original translation because of that other little known movie with the same title. Looking at the cast, you know they’re more than capable of bringing the funny but the measure of a good caper flick are the twists.
First things first, let’s introduce this band of thieves. Lee Deok Moo (Cha Tae Hyun) is the mastermind who is the son of an official. When his father is falsely accused of a crime by the corrupt officials and his friend dies, Deok Moo concocts a plan to get back at them.
Baek Dong Soo (Oh Ji Ho) is the royal guard at the ice storage but is ousted when he’s suspected of ambushing his own men.
Baek Soo Ryun (Min Hyo Rin) is a diver and Dong Soo’s younger sister.
Seol Hwa (Lee Chae Young) is a gisaeng/spy and her young helper, Nan-I (Kim Hyung Gi), is an expert at spreading rumors.
Soo Gyun (Sung Dong Il) is the chief financial backer of the gang. Seok Chang (Go Chang Seok) is the grave digging specialist and Dae Hyun (Shin Jung Geun) is a near-deaf explosives expert.
Chul Joo (Kim Gil Dong) is the speedy deliveryman and Jae Joon (Song Jong Ho) is the womanizing master of disguises.
Finally, Jung Goon (Chun Bo Geun) comes into the mix as the “idea bank”.
Apparently it took 3 years to produce this movie and it shows. It has got the full Hollywood action/comedy feel to it. However, they brought their own brand of Korean elements to the movie. At the end of the day, Ocean’s Eleven is about thieves and con men who break the law for their own gain while Gone with the Wind has a more Robin Hood/Hong Gil Dong lesson of steal from the rich, give to the poor.
Movies like this are a great reason to bring a big cast of heavyweights together and this bunch is fantastic together. We’ve seen them in so many movies and many of them have even been in the same movies together. So that when it comes to the comedy they are so in sync with one another. There are a lot of moving parts to the movie which comes in the form of the characters and their role in helping the gang. and it’s all so very entertaining.
Cha Tae Hyun and Oh Ji Ho both carry the big cast well. Cha Tae Hyun brings the funny while Oh Ji Ho is good at keeping them grounded. Their characters are very loosely based on historical figures from a different century in the Joseon era.
However I have to admit that whenever I see Sung Dong Il, Go Chang Seok and Shin Jung Geun, I squeal with delight. They are effortlessly funny and all three of them had me in stitches throughout this movie.
I think this movie isn’t breaking any barriers but the Joseon era twist was a nice touch. It’s not like you can’t figure out what the twist is but the movie has got all you need from a big budget flick and delivers the goods.
The special effects are thrilling, the comedy is gold, a funny catchphrase runs throughout the film (oo-kay) but you’re mostly here for the A-list cast. Stay tuned for the credits and a surprise appearance by a flower boy.