REVIEW: THE THIEVES (Korean Movie)

The Thieves (도둑들) is a 2012 South Korean heist film directed by Choi Dong-hun 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. With over 12.31 million ticket sales in six weeks, the action comedy is currently the second all-time highest grossing movie in Korean film history.

Posing as mother and daughter, two professional thieves – middle-aged alcoholic Chewing Gum (Kim Hae-sook) and trashy-sexy cat burglar Anycall ( Jun Ji-hyun) – rob the wealthy owner of Leesung Gallery (Shin Ha-kyun) of a rare artifact he bought from notorious Chinese fence Wei Hong (Ki Gook-seo). The theft is organized by team leader Popeye (Lee Jung- jae), helped by his associate Jampano (Kim Soo- hyun). The next day they are visited by a police detective (Ju Jin-mo) who is hot on Popeye’s trail.

Meanwhile, in Hong Kong Chinese veteran thief Chen (Simon Yam), along with Johnny (Derek Tsang) and Korean-Chinese Andrew ( Oh Dal-soo), are busy robbing a jewelry shop. Afterwards, they’re joined by Julie (Angelica Lee), the daughter of a professional safecracker. To escape the heat at home, the Koreans join Chen’s gang in Hong Kong for a heist led by South Korean master thief Macau Park (Kim Yoon-seok), who was once Popeye’s boss. Park’s plan is to steal the Tear of the Sun diamond, worth US$30 million, which was stolen during an exhibition in Tokyo by Japanese thief Madame Tiffany (Yeh Soo-jung), mistress of Wei Hong, who is coming to sell it in Macau. Popeye has brought along safecracker Pepsi (Kim Hye-soo), just released on parole, but Park is unhappy with her joining the team, as they once had a relationship that ended badly four years ago. Park intends to sell the diamond back to Wei Hong for US$20 million – a risky venture as Wei Hong, whose face has rarely been seen, has a habit of murdering anyone who crosses him. Everyone in the team of thieves has a separate
agenda and, when the robbery finally takes place in Macau, little goes according to plan.

Cast
– Kim Yoon Seok as Macau Park
– Kim Hye So as Pepsi
– Lee Jung Jae as Popeye
– Jeon Ji Hyun as Anycall
– Kim Hae Sook as Chewing Gum
– Oh Dal Soo as Andrew
– Kim Soo Hyun as Jampano
– Simon Yam as Chen
– Angelica Lee as Julie
– Derek Tsang as Johnny
– Ju Jin Mo as Detective Ki
– Gook Seo as Wei Hong
– Choi Deok Mun as casino manager
– Chae Gook-hee as Fraud
– Yeh Soo Jung as Tiffany
– Shin Ha Kyun as Art gallery director (cameo)

Box office
With 436,622 tickets sold on the day of its release, The Thieves recorded the second highest single day opening of all time in Korea after The Host opened with 449,500 tickets sold in 2006. On its sixth day of release, it broke the 3 million mark in audience number, drawing 3.35 million viewers.
In eight days, the numbers had risen to 4,365,078 tickets, by the eleventh day, it drew 6.2 million viewers, by the thirteenth day, 7 million, and over 8 million by the sixteenth day. After 22 days, it reached the “magic number” of 10 million viewers, only the sixth film to have done so in Korean film history.

Kim Soo-hyun then fulfilled his public pledge to give a piggyback ride to the 10 millionth ticket holder, a middle school girl. After reaching over 11 million viewers on its fourth week, it rose to number 4 on the Korean all-time box office charts, beating Haeundae. It then passed 12 million to leapfrog over Taegukgi, and on its sixth week its 12.31 million overtook The King and the Clown’s record to become the second highest grossing movie in Korean film history.

(***** RECOMMENDED *****)

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