Festival Film Review: The Thieves – an exhilarating start to LKFF 2012

The Thieves

What can one say about one of the most popular Korean films ever? It’s slick, it’s got Jeon Ji-hyun and Kim Hye-su; it’s got Lee Jeong-jae, Kim Yun-seok and even Hong Kong megastar Simon Yam. Yes, it’s a real pleasure to combine in one film some of your favourite Korean eye-candy with a couple of classic Hong Kong action artists in a crime caper with enough double crosses to keep you entertained for the full two hours.

You can’t help but enjoy the journey which careers between Hong Kong, Macao and Busan. Tremendous fun, loads of action, with plenty of humour to go with it. A perfect opening to the 2012 London Korean Film Festival. It’s not high art, but it’s great entertainment.

Choi Dong-hoon (최동훈) The Thieves (도둑들, 2012) SterneSterneSterneSterneSterne

Choi Dong-hoon has a featured “directrospective” as part of the LKFF, with screenings of Woochi: The Demon Slayer (2009), Tazza: The High Rollers (2006) and The Big Swindle (2004), all of which feature Kim Yun-seok, who also gets a screening of Running Turtle (Lee Yeon-woo, 2009)

Commercial Break

Jeon Ji-hyun as someone that sounds like Anycall
Jeon Ji-hyun as someone that sounds like Anycall

It was nice to see that John Lobb, the British bespoke shoemaker, was mentioned in the closing credits, though I didn’t see any of their products obviously on display. But the strangest non-promotion story in the film relates to Samsung. Who is the high profile actress who used to act as spokesmodel for their Anycall phone? Jeon Ji-hyun. Who is one of the biggest stars in The Thieves? Jeon Ji-hyun. And what is her name in the film? Anycall (supposedly because she’ll take any job). Well actually, no, because Samsung apparently didn’t want it (according to Oh MiJung of CJ E&M enewsWorld). So she’s called something like Ye Nicole. Still, I suppose calling her Galaxy S would sound even stupider, and Samsung would really have had to fork out some real cash for that. (Maybe, for British viewers, Martini might have been a good name, after the 1980s advertising slogan: Anytime, Anyplace, Anywhere)

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