The Thieves (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)
January 29, 2013 by Dennis Amith
“The Thieves” is a stylish, action-packed film that I can see why it is one of the best box office films in South Korea, it’s that good! Featuring an all-star cast that each compliment the film rather well, it’s the balance of a fine-story and action with beautiful cinematography that makes “The Thieves” a must-watch film! Highly recommended!
TITLE: The Thieves
FILM RELEASE: 2012
DURATION: 136 Minutes
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 16:9 Widescreen, Korean Stereo/5.1 DTS-HD MA, Subtitles: English and Korean
COMPANY: Well Go USA Entertainment
Release Date: February 12, 2013
Directed by Dong-Hoon Choi
Written by Dong-Hoon Choi/Lee Gi-Cheol
Produced by Soo-hyun Ahn
Cinematography by Yeong-hwan Choi
Edited by Min-Kyung Shin
Gianna Jun as Yenicall
Hae-suk Kim as Chewingum
Hye-su Kim as Pepsi
Soo Hyun Kim as Zampano
Yun-seok Kim as Macau Park
Angelica Lee as Julie
Jung-Jae Lee as Popeye
Dal-su Oh as Andrew
Kwok Cheung Tsang as Johnny
Simon Yam as Chen
In order to let things cool down from their latest heist, Popeye and his group of thieves go to Macau on a job. But the mastermind behind this job is none other than Popeye’s old partner Macau Park, who escaped with 68kg of gold several years ago on their last job together. Macau Park brought Chinese thieves as well but little did they know what Macau Park planned for each one of them. His plan takes an unexpected turn when Popeye brings Pepsi, a genius safe-cracker and old flame of Macau Park, to settle the old score. The thieves’ target is a $20 million diamond known as ‘Tear of the Sun’, kept safely away in a casino, brought there to be sold by a notorious Chinese fence. While working together to steal this fabled diamond, they all have their own agenda to keep the diamond for themselves. But who will succeed and live to see another day?
The second highest grossing Korean film in Korean box office history, “Dodookdeul” (The Thieves) will be released on Blu-ray and DVD in Feb. 2013 courtesy of Well Go USA Entertainment
Directed by Dong-Hoon Choi (“Whoochi”, “Tazza: The High Rollers” and “The Big Swindle”) and co written by Choi and Lee Gi-Cheol, the film is known for its all-star cast from Korea and other Asian countries.
The film stars Jeon Ji-hyun/Gianna Jun (“My Sassy Girl”, “Il: Mare”, “Blood: The Last Vampire”, “Windstruck”), Hae-suk Kim (“Wonderful Radio, “Sunflower”, “Open City”), Hye-su Kim (“3 Extremes II”, “The Red Shoes”, “Tazza: The High Rollers”), Soo Hyun Kim, Yun-seok Kim (“The Yellow Sea”, “The Chaser”, “Woochi”), Angelica Lee (“The Eye”, “Re-Cycle”, “The Drummer”, “20 30 40”), Jung-Jae Lee (“Il Mare”, “The Housemaid”, “Typhoon”, “Sunaebo”), Dal-su Oh (“Oldboy”, “The Host”, “Thirst”, “The Good, the Bad , the Weird”), Kwok Cheung Tsang (“Once a Gangster”, “Dream Home”) and Simon Yam (“Ip Man”, “Ip Man 2”, “Election”, “PTU”).
The film has been nominated and has won many awards including “Best Cinematography – Choi Young-hwan” (2012 Korean Association of Film Critics Awards, 2012 Buil Film Awards), “Best Supporting Actress” (2012 Grand Bell Awards) and many more.
“The Thieves” begins with a mother and daughter visiting a wealthy gallery owner. The daughter dating the wealthy owner of Leesung Gallery is actually a ruse, as she and her team in Korea are planning to steal a rare artifact that he had purchased from the notorious Chinese fence Wei Hong.
And then we see the team in action. Yenicall (portrayed by Jun Ji-hyun) is a sexy, trash talking cat burglar who will go at any height (literally) to get to the artifact, while the older Chewing Gum (portrayed by Kim Hae-sook) is a non-suspecting burglar and accomplice who is able to fit into any disguise due to her age.
The leader is Popie (portrayed by Lee Jung-jae) who is teaching the young Zampano (portrayed by Kim Soo-hyun) the ways of being a thief.
And the team is successful with stealing the rare artifact and having it replaced with a fake.
But while Popie operates an auto mechanic store in town to throw off detectives, the police detective (portrayed by Jun Jin-Mo) is on their tail and suspects them from stealing from Leesung Gallery.
Meanwhile, the crew goes to pick up a thief (a master at breaking into safes and buildings) named Pepsi (portrayed by Kim Hye-soo) who was released on parole from prison. And immediately, Yenicall is not so happy that another woman has joined the crew.
But this group of thieves are planning for a something much bigger and that is to steal the Tear of the Sun diamond valued at $30 million.
The group receives contact from a master thief named Macau Park (portrayed by Kim Yoon-seok), who was a former boss of Popie and the group travels to meet with Macau Park but also another group of thieves from Hong Kong which include master thief Chen (portrayed by Simon Yam), Johnny (portrayed by Derek Tsank), Korean/Chinese Andrew (portrayed by Oh Dal-su) and their safecracker Julie (portrayed by Angelica Lee), who is the daughter of a master thief but also an undercover police officer who is hot on the trail of Wei Hong.
While both Korean and HK groups tend to not get off that well in the beginning, they learn they must work together with Macau Park. But for Popie, he doesn’t trust his former boss and when Macau Park finds out that Pepsi is involved, he tells Popie to not get her involved.
We are then taken to a flashback years ago, in which Macau Park and Pepsi were in love and while Popie was monitoring their actions, the line that was supposed to hold Macau Park had been cut and he falls off an elevator shaft. While Pepsi tried to rescue him, she was caught on security cameras. While both wondered if Macau Park survived or stole the gold bars they were going after, they never knew. But because Pepsi was a wanted woman, she decides to turn herself in. Meanwhile, Popie tried to get close to her and tries kissing her, but she refuses (as her love was for Macau Park).
Meanwhile, the group learns that their goal is to steal the “Tear of the Sun” at a major casino and there is no chance of error. The Japanese thief Madame Tiffany (portrayed by Yeh Soo-jung) had stolen it during an exhibition in Tokyo and since she is the mistress of Wei Hong, places to sell it in Macau. The goal is to sell the “Tear of the Sun” to Wei Hong for $20 million and everyone gets a cut.
And as the group heads to Macau to steal the “Tear of the Sun” and also money in the safes, can they work as a team or can anyone trust a thief? Especially if each has their own agenda?
“The Thieves” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:35:1 aspect ratio). The cinematography by Yeong-hwan Choi is absolutely beautiful and what really works for this film is the multiple locations and countries of where this film was shot. Locations were carefully planned and what you get is a very stylish film. While the outdoor scenes showcase great detail, there is a hint of softness in the indoor scenes but nothing major. I personally didn’t catch any artifacts or problems with the overall video, but for the most part, “The Thieves” does look very good on Blu-ray!
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
“The Thieves” is presented in Korean 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio. Well, actually while the package says Korean 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, because there are talent from different countries, there are also people talking in Chinese and English as well. But for the most part, the dialogue is crisp and clear and until you get to the final 30-minutes or so of the film, that is when the film becomes much more immersive with gunfire and gun shots going everywhere. So, expect more surround activity towards the second half of the film.
Subtitles are in English and Korean.
“The Thieves ” come with the following special features:
- Making of – (5:51) Interviews with the cast of “The Thieves” and behind-the-scenes footage of the making of the film.
- Meet the Thieves – (4:33) Somewhat of a rehash of what was seen in the “Making Of” but showcasing each cast member talking about their character.
- Trailer – (1:38) The theatrical trailer for “The Thieves”.
I have watched a good number of Asian films about heists or thievery but not often do you find a film like “The Thieves” where the thievery and action is combined with an intricate story, beautiful cinematography in various locations plus an all-star cast.
I have to admit that prior to watching this film, I was excited to see the reunion of “Il Mare” stars Jyeon Ji-hyun and Jung-Jae Lee. But what captivates to you immediately is how stylish the film looks. You always hear about location is everything and for “The Thieves”, just the choice of locations of where to shoot is important as the director Dong-hoon Choi gives cinematographer Yeong-hwan Choi, a chance to capture this blend of high-action reminiscent of “Mission: Impossible” but also a blend of parkour reminiscent of recent James Bond films.
And while the first 15-minutes gives you an idea of what kind of film this will be, it’s not until you see the ensemble cast that you start to realize, while it has an “Ocean’s Eleven” feel, there is no comparison. While these thieves must work together as a group, they are also backstabbing each other in order.
While you watch this film, you don’t know who really to root for as everyone has their own style and technique.
Macau Park (portrayed by Kim Yoon-seok) is the master thief but at the same time, while he may seem as the film’s antagonist, there is deep history involving his relationship with Pepsi and Popie that evolves throughout the film, that makes you change your attitude towards him.
Yennicall (portrayed by Jyeo Ji-hyun) is sexy but a mysterious woman that may have the looks and the moves to penetrate a location in order to steal an artifact, but it’s her style that tends to make you wonder how far she will go in the film.
Pepsi (portrayed by Kim Hye-soo) is the jilted girlfriend who served timed in prison and is now out. You want to root for her because she is good-natured but at the same time, you try to understand her motivation and how she is integrated in the overall picture of this major heist and where her allegiance is.
Popie (portrayed by Lee Jung-Jae) is the Korean thief that is a leader but also a bit unstable, perhaps always feeling he is in the shadow of Macau Park.
And as you settle in with the Korean crew, then you are introduced to the HK crew and see their motivation. Chen (portrayed by Simon Yam) is not a loud person, he is rather calm but we get to see his motivation of why he is taking part in this job but also his blossoming romance with Chewing Gum (portrayed by Kim Hae-sook), which was rather fun.
You also have Angelica Lee as the undercover cop who is pretending to be part of the thieves in order to catch a notorious Hong Kong thief/fence.
And many more characters that really brings a good balance to the overall film.
And while the film tends to show a lot of thievery through strategy and tactics, the film also incorporates one heck of an action sequence towards the end of the film with bullets galore.
As for the Blu-ray release, picture and audio quality is great, with a few hints of softness in indoor scenes. Audio quality is crisp and clear and also get a few special features include as well. The film looks stylish, the cinematography is great and for the most part, definitely a solid Blu-ray release!
Overall, “The Thieves” is a stylish, action-packed film that I can see why it is one of the best box office films in South Korea, it’s that good! Featuring an all-star cast that each compliment the film rather well, it’s the balance of a fine-story and action with beautiful cinematography that makes “The Thieves” a must-watch film!
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