Goddamn, sometimes I just love Asian films! Even their hugely budgeted blockbusters, like the South Korean almost-masterpiece The Thieves, don't follow the same paint-by-numbers plot points that Hollywood films tend to repeat over and over again because originality is apparently overrated and only for sissies in Lala Land (aka "The Home of the Sequel").
"So, I guess you like Asian movies, and especially The Thieves, huh?" you guess like the fucking brilliant Basil of Baker Street that you are. Yeah. No shit, Judge Dee. Films where expectations are routinely mocked and shat upon, then replaced with brilliant left turns and red herrings, along with spectacular stunts and actors having a total blast always make me happy. What of it? You think that just because there's not one actor speaking the English in a movie (and you have to read subtitles) that a flick is beneath you and you refuse to even give it a chance, don't you?! DON'T YOU! You make me sick, you illiterate piece of badger droppings! You!... You!.... Oh, or, I guess, you've never even heard of this movie since it never got a wide release in American theaters. I... I guess that could be a legitimate reason for not already seeing it. Maaaaaaybe.
The Thieves is a heist film that's kind of like a more realistic Asian version of Ocean's 11 — though by "more realistic" I mean in terms of character interactions and the way things play out as opposed to the ridiculousness of the plot. Which I loved too. The Thieves is a giant ensemble film that collects some of South Korea's biggest names, just like Ocean's 11; but unlike that American Vegas-heist movie, pretty much nobody in The Thieves is a great all-around likable person. You know how in Clooney's flick every single character is such good friends with everybody else, and they all like each other, even if they're gruff about it and pretend that they don't? Well, in The Thieves everybody is planning to backstab and fuck the others over from the very beginning, and everybody is wary of everybody else shoving a shiv into their kidneys if they ever let their guard down. Like I said, it's a bit more realistic in the way it handles the tale of an assload of professional thieves coming together to pull off an epic robbery.
The Thieves starts off with a group of South Korean uber-burgulars who scam and steal a priceless artifact from some rich douche-nozzle Seoul-based business man. The gaggle of crims is made up of team leader Popie, sexy/trashy wire-girl Yennicall, con-woman Chewing Gum, and thief-in-training Jampano, and we see how they pull off a nearly impossible heist as if it were a version of Ninja Challenge aimed at toddlers. But after the theft of the ancient piece of pottery from the business man's secret vault, the crew finds themselves under surveillance from the local fuzz, so they decide to take up an old acquaintance of Popie's (a master thief named Macau Park) offer to join him for an out of town job to steal something of great value from the girlfriend of one of the most ferocious members of the Asian mob scene, a mysterious man known only as Wei Hong: the man with the butterfly tattoo.
This offer turns out to be a gathering of super criminals that includes Popie's Korean gang and a group of Hong Kong crooks who aren't above a little smash and grab when the opportunity arises. Also into the mix comes Pepsie (a sexy old friend of Popie's, and an ex lover of Macau Park who is just released from prison), and a Hong Kong safe cracker who's the daughter of the best lock picker in the business. Together, this motley collection of corruptibles come up with a brilliant and complex plan to steal Wei Hong's girlfriend's jewels from under the protective care of one of China's biggest casinos without anyone being the wiser.
SPOILERS. SERIOUSLY. YOU MAY WANT TO SKIP THIS PART IF YOU ENJOY SUSPENSEFUL AND FUN MOVIES
Nothing goes according to Macau Park's original scheme, and most of the double and triple crosses enacted by the various thieving factions don't go as planned either... But some of the better laid out ones do come to fruition. What's surprising is that some of the characters whom the audience is led to believe have less combined brain cells than Peter Griffin and Lloyd Christmas' love child end up on top... Kind of. Well, they at least make it out alive and out of prison.
The Thieves is probably the best looking and the most fun heist flick I've ever seen. It's not a perfect movie (all the double dealings and triple crosses were a bit much to keep track of at one or two points, but that's no big since even my most favoritest movies have their flaws), but it never slows down, never lets up on the tension, and even though most of the main characters are thieves and thugs with major personality flaws, I loved them all. Fuck, even psychotic Andrew earned my approval in the end. This is definitely one of those movies that I will recommend to everyone I meet who only thinks that Americans are the only ones who know how to make real features. Those people make me SICK!
It's The Thiiiiiieeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeves, booooooyyyyyyyyy! Mothafuckin' masta' hackin' and safe crackin' beautiful a-holes who really know how to stick it to the Korean man.
It's like Heat mixed with Mission Impossible, mixed with the original Ocean's 11 (FUCK George Clooney and Brad Pitt! Gimme some Ol' Blue Eyes and Sammy Davis any day!). I liked the fuckola out of this thing — the action, the different kinds and classes of criminals all brought in to pull off the job, and the ending. It only went slightly better than that one time I got Large Larry, Ben the Pick, Christine the Mad Bomber, Chuck the Crowbar, and Scott the Dead Shot all together to raid that mothafucka Doctor Dave's pad of all those professional-grade diamonds he's hording for his hyper drill that the bastard is planning to use to dig into city morgue in order to steal some cadavers to either feed his wonky man-gator, or to use as parts to make more man-gators... That fucka's gotta learn to think BIG!
Unfortunately, although the Doc never learned to appreciate the finer points of expensive gems, bitches, he IS up to date on finely crafted security systems. In this case, Chuck got sliced in half by some mad crazy laser straight out of the first Resident Evil movie, Christine got mauled by some Doberman Bear thingy, Ben got six ninja stars and 3 daggers hurled into his face, Larry lost a leg and a half, and Scott and I left him behind as we ran from the mecha-Dorothy Hamill with laser-beam eyes and a killer back flip. We barely made it to safety, bitches, and I will never attempt that shit again.... Unless I have Jean Claude VanDamme on my side. Or TJ Hooker. Or Stallone.
Mmmm, mmmm, mmmmmmm! All those pretty lil' Asian boys, runnin' around, stealin' jewels and valuable thingamabobs... It's enough to get a gal's heart racin' like a tick on a hound dog's hiney, suckin' away like it was a bottle of Jack.