THE BOTTOM LINE
Too much is as bad as too little. The same principle goes to this historical blockbuster film.
Next Entertainment World (NEW), one of the Korea’s top five film investment and distribution firms, has built a list of solid small-budget commercial films that have highly appealed to the general public.
“The Grand Heist,” which is so NEW-ish not just by its cast list but also the way it tells the story, is a pretty good comedy film full of humors and heart-warming moments.
Although the studio has poured in over seven million dollars only for the production stage, the outlook for this movie seems not so bright as it is in the competitive battle of summer blockbusters including “The Thieves” and “Dark Knight Returns.”
The movie will open with a big preview event attended by some 50,000 people on August 9.
The story is set in late Joseon Dynasty, the time when ice was the symbol of power and wealth, perhaps more valuable than gold. Lee Duk-moo (played by Cha Tae-hyun), who is the second vice-premiere’s son, is jailed by false charging. So was Baek Dong-soo (played by Oh Ji-ho), a loyal official in charge of Seobingo, the government office that manages the royal ice box.
All this turned out to be a dirty business of vice-premiere Cho Myung-soo (played by Nam Gyeong-eup), who tries to monopolize the ice business. Duk-moo, who lost his best friend and was separated from his loving father, comes up with an idea to take revenge on Cho, by robbing the ice storage first. Planning every little detail for the secret plan, he hires about nine different professionals.
WHY SHOULD YOU CARE
From the opening title appearing above the background of a huge amount of ice cubes in Seobingo, the movie clearly suggests from the beginning that the ice place plays a major role in the pic.
Mofac Studio, one of the most experienced visual effects company here, did their job right to make the ice cubes shine bright just like jewels. The fragile and slippery nature of ice was maximized in action scenes where Dong-soo chases Duk-moo for stealing ice, and confronts a killer sent from Cho on a frozen lake.
The film spends enough time to explain why Duk-moo is so obsessed about becoming the leader of professional thieves from an easygoing bookseller. Comparing to “The Thieves,” one of the biggest hits in theaters right now, the family drama seems to be on the right track of focusing on the little pleasures from introducing the thieves’ overall background.
Actor Cha Tae-hyun and his counterpart Oh Ji-ho have some of the best onscreen chemistry as a talkative smart planner and a silent masculine fighter. The episodes of Dae-hyun (played by Sin Jeong-geun), who is good at making bombs, and Jae-joon (played by Song Jong-ho), the master of disguise, tighten up the loosened storyline when the film spends about an hour to give the background story.
The colorful costumes that suit each character’s concept perfectly, and the set made by the art team by hand, play major roles. The staffs’ imagination was the source of the film’s power to well visualize one of the most-remembered dynasty in Korea.
At this point, the simple and pleasant story that brings joy to the audience gets a little bit lost. When director Kim Joo-ho insistently tries to make a happy ending, it made the audience uncomfortable and his film suddenly became no more than just a cliche comedy pic.
The uncontrolled expansion of the main event made the characters lose the chance to explain themselves. Cha’s first historical movie left no time to show the strong bond among eleven characters.
The tight relationship among the thieves is perhaps the most important factor in the comedy flick, because unlike most people the thieves chose to follow their consciousness over money. The missing bridge of explanation left no space for the audience to sympathize with the characters’ emotions in the ending.
※ Any copying, republication or redistribution of 10Asia’s content is expressly prohibited without prior consent of 10Asia. Copyright infringement is subject to criminal and civil penalties.
Reporter : Lee Hye Ji hjlee@
Editor : Monica Suk monicasuk@