A CON THE RAT PACK WOULD BE PROUD OF
Another day, another version of Ocean’s Eleven. I figured that I’d watch the two recent caper flicks back to back and rate them.
In order to take the heat off from their latest score, a Korean gang of professional thieves teams up with a gang in Hong Kong. Brought together by Macao Park (Kim Yoon Seok), they aim to steal an infamous diamond called “Tear of the Sun” and valued at $30 million dollars. A Japanese thief named Madame Tiffany plans to sell the diamond in Macao for her boyfriend, Wei Hong, a dangerous mobster whose face has rarely been seen. Everyone on the team has a separate agenda and when it comes time to steal the diamond, very little goes according to plan.
This is another all-star cast with an ensemble cast. Popeye (Lee Jung Jae) leads the group of Korean thieves and he’s got a past history with Macao Park. His team is made up of a middle-aged alcoholic grifter, Chewing Gum (Kim Hae Sook), a sexy cat burglar, Anycall (Jun Ji Hyun), and assisted by the young associate and Anycall’s line man, Jampano (Kim Soo Hyun). Leading the Hong Kong thieves is the veteran thief Chen (Simon Yam) aided by Johnny (Derek Tsang), Korean-Chinese Andrew (Oh Dal Soo) and professional safecracker Julie (Angelica Lee) who father was also safecracking thief. Popeye also brings in the recently paroled Pepsi (Kim Hye Soo), Macao’s former jilted lover.
장영규 – 도둑들 (Opening Theme)
It’s hard not to make comparisons between this and Ocean’s Eleven even though Director Choi Dong Hoon said he never went into production consciously thinking about the Hollywood hit. It’s just that the movie has a large cast of characters and the plot takes place in a casino. And even the soundtrack music is reminiscent of that swingin’ style. It is your basic caper and the way it’s filmed is classic Hollywood. You can even tell that the actors did extensive ADR where they dubbed over the lines in the studio to create a crisper sound.
However, Ocean’s Eleven characters concentrated more working as a group against a common foe while The Thieves brings to light all their individual backstories and hidden motives even though they’re on the same team. While it was important to see the backstory of Popeye, Macao Park and Pepsi, it was also interesting to see Chen’s backstory, how much Anycall trusted her partners, where Julie’s alliance lie.
Kim Yoon Seok plays Macao Park as this calculating mastermind that’s always 3 steps ahead but I like how he played off of Kim Hye Soo. Both characters obviously still have feelings for each other only they can’t get past their history. Macao and Pepsi are so good at hiding their true feelings from the rest of the gang pretending that they can be pro’s except in front of each other the barriers disintegrate little by little. Kim Yoon Seok and Kim Hye Soo are so great at playing those subtleties.
I have been watching and swooning of Lee Jung Jae ever since he was that hawt bodyguard in Sandglass. And I like that throughout his career, he’s experimented in different roles whether they’ve been comic or sadistic. He’s certainly hasn’t gotten boring.
Coming off the success of his hit drama, I was curious to see what Kim Soo Hyun would be like. He’s one of those actors that I enjoy watching but he doesn’t really make me swoon. I suspect it’s because in the back of my mind I’m reminded that he’s so much younger than. Woooah, I totally forgot about that here.
Even I was of the same opinion as Anycall brushed off Jampano’s romantic advances and while he’s quiet and unassuming, he certainly made a big impression. Comically and romantically.
The thing that makes this a movie that can stand on its own is the fact the twists were so effective because you don’t see it coming. They say a good con man is good at misdirection and that’s exactly what happens here. And what this movie does is have so many different elements working simultaneous with each other. It’s not like the caper happens and the movie tells you later how it all went down as is typical of a caper movie.
The Thieves is more a character driven story. You’ve got the drama going on between the characters trying to one-up each other, you’ve got their mission to cheat a malicious mobster and you don’t even realize there’s a whole side of the story that you missed. What you missed promises to be a good ride.