The 2012, 7th annual London Korean Film Festival opened to epic proportions on the 1st November. Not only was the opening film one of the biggest South Korean films of the year, but the wonderful LKFF team had also managed to fly in Director Choi Dong Hoon and main man Kim Yoon Seuk! With a full on red carpet entrance, packed out cinema and a very rowdy Q&A afterwards, it was a very successful European Premier for The Thieves. A film that we at Korean Class MASSIVE have been dying to see!
The Thieves is a heist movie and it started off very much like any other heist movie. We are first greeted with a con job where we are introduced to our group of cunning artists with comic book style swishy graphics. There have been a lot of heist films especially with Oceans 11 through to63 so we’re sure it’s getting hard to conjure up a new and refreshing scenario every time to capture the audience’s attention from the very beginning. Director Choi managed to pull this off with some very impressive wire stunts and very adorable characters. In these first 10 minutes, it is important that you learn a bit about each character, their skill and their role in the team. Of course, it wouldn’t be a con job if there wasn’t a moment of panic and “almost got caught” suspense before the con artists manage to strut away with class, style and most importantly, their loot. Director Choi manages to successfully open this heist movie with suave, sophistication and your typical Korean humour; a very promising start.
The characters are very well thought out and the chemistry between most of the characters is hot and heart-warming. The characters of a heist movie are very important as the audience needs to be able to feel something towards them, otherwise why would we even care if they succeed or not? The Chinese team featured the legendary Simon Yam, whom the Director is a huge fan of, and we think he managed to steal the show as he embarked on a Bonnie and Clyde style romance with Chewing Gum, the seemingly asexual older lady; who can resist Simon Yam’s charms? And unlike your typical heist movie where only the main man gets his girl (i.e. George Clooney), love is in the air for The Thieves as we see love between Zampano (Kim Soo Hyun) and Yenicall blossom and ending in a breathtakingly romantic, heroic and gentlemanly love declaration where he sacrifices himself for his love. Mr. Macao Park also gets himself some action when he finally gets together with Pepsi (we think… Damn you forever inconclusive Korean film endings) after all your typical misunderstandings and epic realisation moment that involves a lot of running and just missing each other in crowds etc. These little love stories are what restores a little faith in humanity within the audience after watching these cons con each other again and again.
We 100% recommend this film to everyone as it has something for everyone, there’s the pre-mentioned romance, the usual hilarious Korean sense of humour that filmed the cinema with deafening laughter and the action, which involves a lot of impressive wire work with the backdrop of the amazing Macau Casino district; the Las Vegas of Asia. There is a lot of gun fighting, and they seem to never run out of bullets, which is a good thing as these bad guys have the worst aim EVER. At one point they were able to hit a rope causing a drop, but other than that, they can’t hit a unarmed man just swinging back and forth on the side of the building… They also had a very bad ass mob boss, not your typical ones that talk too long and end up being killed, we had a smart one who just went around shooting everyone, because why not? He seems to be the only guy in this film with any sort of successful aim. We were also particularly impressed with a stunt towards the end performed by Lee Jung-Jae, aka Popeye. If you watch closely, he get hits by a car pretty badly but still manages to stand back up again, all this was shot in one smooth shot, seriously impressive stuff! If you are a Korean Film fan you may have also recognised Popeye from Il Mare and as the rather hot husband inHousemaid (2009), but just in case you didn’t notice his heart throb status, an unnecessary but much appreciated topless moment was thrown in for the female audience. See, something for everyone!
One little bone we do have to pick about The Thieves is the awful Cantonese. It must be hard for Director Choi to be working with a film that featured Korean, Mandarin, Cantonese, a bit of English and even Japanese. So we’ll just like to take a moment to send a message to Director Choi Dong Hoon, if you ever decide to venture into Chinese again, I, Ema, am your girl! Give me a few more years in Korean Class MASSIVE and I may even get fluent in Korean! Perfect for whatever future film project you may have… But back in topic, we really loved the multi-cultural aspect of The Thieves. How does a Chinese and Korean thieve communicate? With Japanese of course! Kim Yoon Seuk was very impressive as a man of many different languages, as well as Kim Soo Hyun with his adorable Mandarin.
The beautiful cinematography – Hong Kong
This film provided many MASSIVE laughs, excitement and suspense from a very well throughout plot with engaging characters. We do not know what else to say apart from WATCH THIS FILM! The Thieves is a refreshing and brilliant new take on the rather overdone heist genre, so hats off to the London Korean Cultural Centre for picking this fine choice for their opening film; a brilliant introduction to Korean Cinema showing the UK audience just how different and engaging Korean Cinema can be!
One last word from KCM team: What happened to Johnny?!??!