One of the best feelings ever is going into a movie and expecting it to be garbage, and then ending up having some of the most fun I’ve had watching a movie in a long time. Before watching The Thieves, I didn’t know anything about it and I wasn’t even sure that it’s production values were any good, but after some research I found that, for awhile, it was the highest grossing South Korean film of all time. So, I soon became interested, and after watching the movie and thinking back on it, I like it more and more.
As leader of a group of thieves, Popie (Lee Jung-jae) has assembled only the best in the business. These include the aged Chewing Gum (Kim Hae-sook), the young burglar Yenicall (Jeon Ji-hyun), and expert technician Zampano (Kim Soo-hyun). While this team works great together, a monkey wrench is thrown in the mix when two of Popie’s old associates show up once again. The first is his love interest and associate Pepsee (Kim Hye-soo) and the other is Macao Park (Kim Yun-seok), who has a new job for them: stealing the Tear of the Sun diamond from vicious gangster Wei Hong (Ki Gook-seo). Enlisting the help of another team from China led by Chen (Simon Yam), the thieves make a plan and eventually get their hands on the diamond and the money, but it seems that everyone wants it all for themselves and proves that there is no loyalty among thieves.
As I was saying before, I really had pretty low expectations for this movie. I was worried it was just going to be a rip off of Ocean’s Eleven, but I was wonderfully surprised to see that The Thieves most certainly is not a rip off, but it is the best heist film since Ocean’s Eleven. This movie is a great blend of action, comedy, and betrayal. This is a pretty long movie, and I’m not saying that it couldn’t have been edited down, but there is so much happening in this movie that the long run time is justified. Another concern of mine was, since I knew that there was going to be a lot of double crossing from a lot of different characters, I thought I was going to be mad confused. Again, this just wasn’t the case.
Maybe I’m just a moron, but when there’s a lot of things going on in a movie where a lot of different people have ulterior motives, I sometimes just get lost in a all of the commotion. Let’s just say movies like Spy Game and the third Pirates of the Caribbean movies left me baffled for a while. This one didn’t leave me confused at all, and I think that’s because the characters are so fleshed out and written so well that none of them blended together. They all had very different personalities and clear motivations that were explained very well, so when the double crossing did begin, I was able to keep up with it and just enjoy seeing everything fall apart in that comedic way that only heist films can deliver on.
That being said, The Thieves definitely has style, but it is in no way style over substance. I actually connected with some of the characters and understood their reasonings, and then there were some that I enjoyed hating. It’s a very twisty king of movie, so you may think you know what’s going on, but then it turns out that you couldn’t have been more wrong. The only real flaw that is to be found in this movie is that a very big conflict, which can be argued is the main conflict of the entire movie, doesn’t show up until the last half hour or forty five minutes of the movie. They pack so much action into this part that it’s easy to forget that this should’ve been part of the movie from the get go.
As it stands, The Thieves is still the third highest grossing movie in South Korea, and it really does deserve that honor. I saw a lot of other critics saying that they wished Hollywood was still able to make movies like this, and I have to agree. Sure, Hollywood makes some really great movies from time to time, but it’s also lacking a lot of what The Thieves has, and that’s both style and substance. This is a movie that is sure to please anybody who watches it. I absolutely loved The Thieves.