Saturday, May 03, 2014

The Thieves (Korean Movie)

From Wikipedia:

The Thieves (Hangul: 도둑들) is a 2012 South Korean heist film directed by Choi Dong-hoon with an all-star ensemble cast. Splashy action in overseas locations is mixed with double-dealings and multiple betrayals as a gang of South Korean thieves team up with a Hong Kong crew to steal a diamond necklace from a heavily guarded casino safe in Macau.


Review and Thoughts

Given its title it is not hard to guess that this movie is about thieves and a big heist: a team of 5 Korean thieves have to work together with their counterparts from Hong Kong to accomplish this big heist (which makes little sense, stealing a diamond necklace selling it back to the same owner).This is also the movie where Kim Soo Hyun and Jeon Ji-hyun collaborated before their famous “You who came from the star” fame. The team consists of: 
  • Popie [Jung Jae-Lee]
    The muscle and brains of the team; the leader. He might seem easy going and carefree, but in reality he is a selfish person who caused the breakup of his original team due to his greed and jealousy. His double crossing ways soon catch with him as he is outwitted by Yenicall and spends him time in prison for a couple of years (only?!!).

  • Zampano [Kim Soo Hyun!!!]
    the guy in charge of the wires and strategy. Silent and brooding sort, he has a crush Yenicall, cat burglar extraordinaire at scaling walls and fitting in tight places. There was a hilarious scene with him being the subject of interest rather than Yenicall, who was supposed to be the ‘bait’. This assumption is soon broken when it is indicated that their target prefers men instead, and poor Zampano ‘suffers’ for the sake of the mission. Towards the end of the movie, he gets caught as he purposefully gives himself away after confessing his love to Yenicall. And that is the last we see of him.
  • Yenicall [Jeon Ji-hyun]  
  • The one who basically does all of the stealing and con-woman breaking men’s hearts. She scales walls, squeezes in vents and makes her way past laser beamed booby traps to get to the spoils, with a little conniving along the way the cheat her target. We are first introduced to her as fiancé to a rich museum curator, with the intention to steal from him. She does not take Zampano’s confessions seriously, but is slightly moved by his gesture (of getting caught so that she could escape). Still with bigger things in mind (i.e. the necklace), she (seems to) quickly forget about him (poor thing). She is on the characters that get away relatively unharmed and in possession of the real necklace. The ending is hilarious… you have to watch it to know :p
  • Pepsee [Hye-su Kim]
    A renown safecracker who cracks safes and was in the original team with Popie. Her feelings for Marko cause the jealous Popie to cut the wire on their last stint, which resulted in Marko falling and injuring his leg. But with Marko missing, so did the gold that they stole that night. As Pepsee had been caught on the CCTV, coupled with the loss of Marko (and their budding relationship, and the gold), she decided to turn in herself to the police the day after. After her time in prison, Pepsee is out for revenge on Marko and joins the gang on their expedition to steal the necklace.
  • Chewing Gum [Kim Hae-sook]
    A middle-aged alcoholic mast con-woman who gives al her hard earned money to her daughter, never saving a penny for herself and one of the reasons why she drowns her sorrows away in alchol. She and Yennicall have a pseudo mother-daughter relationship and are pretty close. She is one of the 2 characters that die in this movie (alongside Simon Yam’s character Chen).
  • Marko Park[Kim Yoon-seok]
    After being betrayed by Popie and mistaken about Pepsee, Marko recruits his former team on this big heist to be coordinated with a Hong Kong team (unbeknownst to them there is a police spy - Julie, daughter of a famous safecracker). He is the mastermind behind this heist and he literally plays out his team as he uses them as a distraction and steals the necklace himself. He gets away scoot-free, while the rest are either injured while in their attempt to escape, captured, or dead. He soon learns that it was a misunderstanding with Pepsee and towards the end of the movie there are hints that they might get back together. Because of this revelation he risks his life to save a drowning and trapped Pepsee cuffed inside a police van heading into the sea. We soon learn of his motivation of stealing back the necklace and selling it back to the same owner, Wei Hong – an enigma underworld figure whose face no one has seen and known for his butterfly tattoo on his left hand. Wei Hong was the guy that killed Marko’s father when he and Chen (Simon Yam) tried to sell the necklace back to him years ago. Marko wants to use this as an opportunity to get his revenge and use the police to capture Wei Hong. The amount of artillery that Wei Hong and gang bring to confront Marko is staggering and so is the fact that he is not in his hometown but in Korea (where the battle ensues). It turns out that Wei Hong had bribed many people, including high ranking official across the globe, which explains why he was never caught let alone identified. However, for all his bribery and money, Wei Hong finally meets his (timely) demise in (his) most unexpected of ways. With Wei Hong dead, there is no price tag hanging on Marko’s head and he begins his quest to steal back the necklace from Yennicall (at least he had the heart to pay her outstanding hotel bill at a posh hotel) and get back together with Pepsee.


In conclusion, it was funny and entertaining (if you don’t think too much about the plot and just go with the flow), minus the sad deaths of 2of the thieves. It started off amusing, progressed to exciting with action, peppered with the funny and dangerous, followed by a sense of loss and betrayal, and finishing off with redemption and retribution (of sorts), and ended with a little bit of humor and a sense of hope and wonder. The plot was a little thin and the stealing scenes (at the beginning when Yenicall is making her way to the secret vault) a little too relaxed and unprofessional (like she would be caught at any moment), but still the action and the adorable banter (between Yenicall and Zampano) was fun to watch. It could have been better, but it was entertaining enough and the ending although open-ended (and could have benefitted from more closure), does give it room for a sequel.

Rating: 3.5/5


  1. Would you know the name of the hotel in Hongkong where Yenical was swimming then her curator ex and Pepsee showed up? Thanks.

  2. Did like the ending as they should have shown something about Kim soo hyun . Doesn't make any sense .