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Ko - production in Busan
  • In Focus: The Thieves (Doduk-deul)
  • by Darcy Paquet /  Jul 19, 2012
  • Directed by CHOI Dong-hoon
    Starring Gianna JUN, KIM Yun-seok, KIM Hye-soo, LEE Jung-jae, KIM Soo-hyun, Simon YAM, LEE Sin-je, KIM Hae-sook, OH Dal-soo, Derek TSANG, SHIN Ha-kyun
    Release Date: July 25, 2012

    Given that many of the biggest Hollywood films get scheduled each year for June and July, locally produced genre movies released at this time have to figure out some way to steal Hollywood's thunder. In terms of spectacle, Korean films can't really compete on a sheer technical level. CHOI Dong-hoon's <The Thieves> embraces another kind of spectacle: local star power. The film features reliable hitmaker KIM Yun-seok (<Punch>, <The Chaser>), veteran actress KIM Hye-soo (<Tazza: The High Rollers>), the versatile LEE Jung-jae (<The Housemaid>), white-hot TV star KIM Soo-hyun, character actors OH Dal-soo (<Oldboy>) and KIM Hae-sook (<Thirst>), and a major comeback role for Korean Wave star Gianna JUN (<My Sassy Girl>). Not only that, Hong Kong stars Simon YAM (<Election>), Angelica LEE Sin-je (<The Eye>), and Derek TSANG (<Dream Home>) join the mix. Add in some memorable location shooting in Macau and Hong Kong, and a mix of four different languages, and <The Thieves> will give local viewers plenty to talk about when it is released in theaters on July 25.
    Director-screenwriter CHOI Dong-hoon‘s three previous films to date, all of which have been solid or smash commercial hits (<The Big Swindle> from 2004, <Tazza: The High Rollers> from 2006, and <Woochi> from 2009), share certain features in common. He has demonstrated an ability to effectively handle large ensemble casts. Virtually all of his films feature ambitious set pieces, usually some sort of heist in which certain characters out-wit their opponents. He is also known for his particular style of quickly-delivered, complex and witty dialogue.
    All of these elements return in <The Thieves>, the story of a group of crooks who decide to team up and steal a priceless diamond from a casino in Macau. Their plan appears to be foolproof, but sure enough, tensions arise among the diverse group of Korean and Hong Kong thieves who have been thrown together for this purpose. Viewers will be already familiar with the genre blueprint of this work, from Hollywood films such as <Ocean' s Eleven>. But director CHOI chooses to focus slightly less on the complex logistics of the heist, or the inevitable betrayals and plot twists that viewers now come to expect in such films. Instead, there is somewhat more emphasis on the various relationships that form among the group. Given the director's ability to create memorable, distinctive characters, this seems to have been a good choice, imparting to the work its own, unique personality.
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