So don’t complain that you have to read subtitles; literacy is good for you.
Depicting the theft of a national treasure from a seemingly impenetrable art vault, a 10-minute prologue puts viewers right in the mood for its jaunty, addicting vibe — one that marries the globetrotting derring-do of the Mission: Impossible franchise with the easy-go-lucky capers of the all-star Ocean’s Eleven trilogy. This is one Asian film that’s as in love with Hollywood as Hollywood is with itself.
After pulling off the aforementioned objet d’ art switcheroo, the titular team members next set their collective targets on the Tear of the Sun, a diamond valued at tens of millions of dollars, owned by a woman who will be staying at, naturally, a swanky casino. Her safe will be cracked there, which is exactly as it should be in such an affair.
While awash in the glitz and swagger of the subgenre, The Thieves takes a grim turn as reality knocks several characters on their asses. Tables get turned, as is wont, and the focus shifts more from the jewel to premier double-crosser Macau Park (Kim Yun-seok, The Chaser).
Remarkably not overstuffed at a 135-minute running time, director/co-writer Choi Dong-hoon’s film is pure pleasure — as lively as its arguable standout star, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan‘s Gianna Jun, is lovely. Even with a sprawling cast, every player gets his or her share of moments, with the venerable Simon Yam (Ip Man) in particular having such a blast, it’s tough not to feel the kick right along with him.
Make it a double feature with Well Go USA’s also-new Tai Chi Zero for two sterling examples of the Far East’s far-out flicks. —Rod Lott