The Thieves is the second highest grossing film in Korean film history. Why you ask? I would assume it’s because of the all-star cast and that people want to see such a star studded cast work together regardless of story. The film could’ve been about all of these characters talking what they are going to eat for 90 minutes and it would probably be the second highest grossing film in Korean film history. What am I trying to say? Well, this film happens to be a heist film in the same way as Ocean’s Eleven (as a lot of people compare this to be the Korean version of said film) or whatever other heist film you can think of. Regardless of what heist film you compare this to, you will probably be right.
Directed by Choi Dung-Hun (Tazza: The High Rollers), The Thieves is about a bunch of Korean thieves (why else would it be called The Thieves) who are ready to jump on a score sent to them by Macao Park and fellow thieve Pepsee (pronounced like the soft drink) is released from jail to join the gang of bumbling thieves. They set off and meet a Hong Kong team of thieves (of course) led by Chen, played by veteran bad ass Simon Yam. Now, these two groups don’t trust each other with the Hong Kong group saying that Koreans are full of lies. Oh, you crazy Asians and your twisted logic. How do you get away with it all? Oh, disregard all I just said because I don’t want to be targeted by gangs. Alright, where was I? Macao Park lays out the plan for them: They will steal the Tear of the Sun diamond which is being held by the dangerous Wei Hong. But as with any heist film, things don’t go according to plan and things fall apart fast.
The performances are standard but well executed by all those involved. I liked Lee Jung-Jae who plays Popie. He does a decent job of making his cold hearted character have some depth to him. Oh Dal-Soo’s Andrew is the one character of comic relief and he delivers. One of the neat things about this film is that characters interact with each other in Korean, Japanese, Chinese and English. While the plot jumps from place to place and there is danger lurking for these thieves, the characters just aren’t that interesting to watch. Even though the performances from their respective actors are decent, the characters just don’t bleed charisma. Quite honestly, this is one of the least interesting group of thieves you will run across. You just get the women looking sexy and the men being suave although you do get Simon Yam being Simon Yam (in other words, Yam is cool). The film is visually stunning but sub-par everywhere else.
The film feels like it’s on a sugar rush as the film doesn’t know which characters to center on because there are just too many characters to focus on even though the ending action makes up a bit for a boring first hour. At a running time of about 135 mintues, the film goes on for too long. While this film isn’t bad, it’s definitely not praise-worthy, at least to this reviewer. On the outside, this film looks impressive but once you dive in, it’s nothing worth remembering. I respect the film for making a lot of money but it’s simply that; a popcorn movie. If that’s all you expect then you’ll most likely enjoy this film. Other than that, you can find a much better heist film elsewhere.