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Film / The Thieves

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The Thieves is a 2012 South Korean heist film directed by Choi Dong-hoon.

In order to let things cool down from their latest heist, Popie (Lee Jung-jae) and his group of thieves go to Macau on a job. But the mastermind behind this job is none other than Popie's old partner Macau Park, who escaped with 68kg of gold several years ago on their last job together. Macau Park has brought in Chinese thieves as well but little did anyone know what Macau Park planned for each one of them.

Park's plan takes an unexpected turn when Popie brings in Pepsee, a genius safe-cracker and old flame of Macau Park, to settle the old score. The thieves' target is a $20 million diamond known as 'Tear of the Sun', kept safely away in a casino, brought there to be sold by the notorious Chinese fence Wei Hong. While working together to steal this fabled diamond, they all have their own agenda to keep the diamond for themselves. But who will succeed and live to see another day?

The Thieves contains examples of:

  • Air-Vent Passageway: Yenicall escapes from Park's hotel room by crawling the ceiling crawlspace.
  • Answer Cut: Yenicall asks "Who is Pepsee?" Cut to Pepsee, who turns out to be joining Yenicall as the second hot babe on the team, getting released from jail.
  • Book Ends: The opening sequence has Yenicall and Chewing Gum meet their victim, a hapless art gallery owner who thinks Yenicall is going to marry him, and distracting him while their comrades rob the gallery. The last scenes have Pepsee meeting the art gallery owner on a plane, and setting him up to purchase the diamond from an extremely embarrassed Yenicall. (Pepsee finds out at the very end that Macau Park has beaten her there and has stolen the diamond from Yenicall's room.)
  • The Caper: Macau Park puts the team together to heist the Tear of the Sun from a Macau casino.
  • Caper Crew:
    • Popie: The Mastermind
    • Macau Park: The Mastermind/The Backer
    • Zampano: The Gadget Guy
    • Yenicall: The Burglar (Classy Cat-Burglar)
    • Pepsee and Julie: The Burglar (Safe Cracking)
    • Chewing Gum: The Con Man
    • Chen: The Distraction
    • Andrew and Jonny: The Muscle
  • The Casino: The heist goes down in a Macau casino.
  • Classy Cat-Burglar: Yenicall likes to think she is this, but she is probably a little too trashy to qualify.
  • Dirty Cop: Wei Hong has several cops on his payroll, including the Korean detective.
  • Fakin' MacGuffin: Popie has a fake version of the 'Tear of the Sun' diamond to swap for the real one. Yenicall has a second one made secretly and when Popie tries to steal the original, he ends up with the second fake.
  • Foot Popping: Yenicall when Zampano plants a kiss on her, although she plays it off afterwards.
  • Gambit Pileup: Almost everyone involved in the heist has their own agenda, and these all come crashing together once the job starts going down.
  • Hidden in Plain Sight: Park hides the yellow 'Tear of the Sun' in the yellow light fitting in his hotel room.
  • I Was Never Here: The Chinese lady who hires the gang to steal the diamond says "We've never met" (in English, as is the whole scene) when she leaves after meeting everyone.
  • Janitor Impersonation Infiltration: Macau Park disguises himself as an elderly waiter to gain access to various areas of the casino.
  • Jammed Seat Belts: Not a seatbelt but Pepsee is trapped in a sinking police van after she is accidentally handcuffed to the inside of the van.
  • Job Title: They're thieves!
  • Language Barrier: While there are characters who are fluent in both Korean and Chinese, most are not. They either use their bilingual colleagues for translation or communicate through other shared languages like English (Julie and Pepsee) or Japanese (Chewing Gum and Chen).
  • Laser Hallway: In the opening caper a member of the gang (posing as a Twerp Sweating mother) gains access to the laser-guarded vault beforehand (under the pretext of ensuring her future son-in-law has sufficient money) and leaves some chewing gum on the laser projector as she walks out. The chewing gum falls off before they've completed the theft, but fortunately the 'mother' and her 'daughter' don't have the stolen artifact on them when they're searched, having already passed it on to another member of the gang.
  • Match Cut: How Julie is revealed to be an undercover cop. There's a shot of her with Pepsee, cracking a safe. She puts her ear to the safe—cut to Julie doing the same, but for her fellow officers in the Hong Kong police department, four days earlier.
  • The Mole: Julie is planted on the team by the Hong Kong Police to lead them to the reclusive fence Wei Hong.
  • Newspaper-Thin Disguise: Andrew sits at a cafe table holding a newspaper in front of his face while keeping watch on the hotel.
  • No Honor Among Thieves: The casino heist dissolves into a complex web of double and triple crosses, as the various members of the Caper Crew each pursues their own ends.
  • One Last Job: Chewing Gum talks about how she's retiring after this last job. Naturally, she's killed.
  • Parking Garage: Chewing Gum and her boyfriend Chen get caught in a shootout with security in the casino parking garage. They manage to get out of the parking garage but they're both eventually killed.
  • Safe Cracking: Pepsee and Julie are both expert safecrackers. Pepsee favours the drills and other gadgets, while Julie likes to feel the tumblers with her fingers.
  • Shrouded in Myth: The elusive and mysterious fence Wei Hong. The Hong Kong Police do not even know what he looks like.
  • Split-Screen Phone Call: For when Macau Park intrudes on the call that Pepsee and Popie are on, as the latter two are attempting to steal his diamond. The news that Macau Park didn't betray them and that Popie may have been the one to cut the cord leads Pepsee to walk off the job.
  • Trapped in a Sinking Car: The police van drives into the harbour when the thieves attempt to escape. Everyone manages to get out when it hits the water, except for Pepsee who ends up handcuffed to the inside of the van and is trapped in the sinking van.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Wei Hong shoots the Korean detective in the head once he has disposed of the Hong Kong police inspector.