The Thieves (2012) – By Duane L. Martin

What do you do when you want to steal a thirty million dollar diamond from a wealthy casino owner, arms dealer and all around crook? You assemble the best group of thieves you can find. Macau Park has a plan, and to carry it out, he needs to gather together a group of Korean thieves he’s had dealings with in the past, one of whom betrayed him, and a small group of Chinese thieves, all at the top of their game, and the only ones who can pull off a job like this.

To pull off the job, every detail needs to be planned out precisely, and carried out to the letter. Unfortunately, despite their being the best of the best in the thieving world, they each have their own motivations, and those motivations lead to plans of betrayal, but little do they know that Macau Park has his own plans, and it doesn’t involve sharing the prize with anyone, except perhaps for the girl he once loved, and had for a long time thought was in on the betrayal against him on a past job. Now as they all struggle to avoid the cops and stay alive as the bullets fly, will anyone survive to claim the prize? You’ll have to watch the film to find out.

Wow. Seriously, just wow. This film grabs you right from the beginning with the heist of a highly valuable art object in a well planned and brilliantly pulled off heist, and then just keeps going from there, pulling you into a world full of great characters, intricate schemes, action and betrayal.

When Macau Park assembles his team, each has their own specialty or role. There are nine in all, including:

The Korean Team:

Yenicall (Gianna Jun): Young, beautiful, athletic and confident. She does the wire work, rappeling down the sides of buildings and such. She’s also quite good at pulling off cons.

Chewingum (Hae-suk Kim): Middle aged but extremely experienced. She’s also great at pulling off cons. She’s had a bit of a drinking problem in the past, but has it under control.

Pepsee (Hye-su Kim): Macau Park loved her, and they used to be teamed with Popie, but Popie betrayed him. When Park assumed that Pepsee had betrayed him as well, he disappeared for years and had no contact with her. She’s a great thief and good at picking locks and cracking safes.

Zampano: He’s a young guy, but very skillful. He runs the winch that Yenicall uses to rappel down the sides of buildings. He’s also in love with Yenicall, though she doesn’t really reject or accept that love.

Popei: He’s sort of the leader of the Korean group. Pepsee rejoins the group after she gets out of prison, because Popei had only semi-cut Park’s cable on that gold heist, so it looked like an accident, but when Park didn’t die, and ended up disappearing with the gold, he tried to convince her that Park had set it up to betray them so he could run off with the gold and keep it all to himself. He’s a good all around thief, but far too greedy and quick to betray.

The Chinese Team:

Julie (Angelica Lee): She’s a highly skilled safe cracker that learned the art from her father who himself was a professional. She also has a secret.

Andrew (Dal-su Oh): He’s sort of the doof of the group. He seems somewhat stupid and incompetent, but he mostly handles his role without messing things up. He’s not as highly skilled or as polished as the rest, but at least he doesn’t really screw anything up.

Johnny (Kwok Cheung Tsang): He’s just a general, all around thief. He’s skilled, but doesn’t have a major part in the plan other than acting in a support role.

Chen (Simon Yam): Chen is the leader of the Chinese group. He’s basically a perfect match for Chewingum. He’s middle aged, highly skilled and great at pulling off a con. It’s no wonder that he and Chewingum found love before all hell broke loose.

As the leader, Macau Park (Yun-seok Kim), who himself is Korean, is not only a highly skilled thief, but he posseses a brilliant mind, capable of precise planning and the anticipation of any eventuality before it happens.

This film has something for everyone. For those who like crime and suspense, the heist fills that role. For those who like humor, there’s bits sprinkled in here and there, including a hilarious encounter with the casino’s hotel manager. Action? There’s plenty of that too, including an edge of your seat scene with Park scaling down a building with Wei Hong’s henchmen in hot pursuit and shooting at him with machine guns the whole way. Intrigue? Got ya covered there as well. With everyone having their own motivations and plans for betrayal, figuring out which way the wind is blowing and who’s going to come out on top at any given time is nearly impossible.

The best word I can think of to describe this film is, "impressive". The brilliance of the writing, and then having that writing brought to the screen by a cast and crew that excel at their craft makes this film a feast for the eyes, as well as the mind, that will at times have you laughing, while at other times your heart will be racing with excitement.

South Korea has consistently impressed me with the quality of the films they’ve been producing over the last decade, both in writing and production quality, and this film is yet another shining example of that. In essence, South Korea has really become the Hollywood of the East.

This release is from Well Go USA, and as such, the quality is superb. I’ve never reviewed a release from them where the quality was sub-standard in any way. The special features included on the disc include a making of featurette, a second featurette called "Meet the Thieves" and the film’s trailer.

At 136 minutes, the film can feel a tad long, but at least it’s never boring, which is a claim that, sadly, a lot of 2+ hour films can’t make. There’s always something going on in this film to keep you involved and entertained, and even in the slow parts, the characters themselves make it fun to watch. All in all, this is just a great film, and I can’t recommend it enough.

If you’d like to find out more about this release, you can check out its page on the Well Go USA website here, and if you’d like to pick up a copy for yourself, you can get the DVD or blu-ray from Amazon, or from any of the other usual outlets.