June 15, 2013

Blind: The Seeing Eye Dog That Sees Too Much in Its Owner

It's a good thing that dogs are so indiscriminately devoted. Otherwise, the Golden Retriever Seul-ki might not be so self-sacrificing for Soo-ah (Kim Ha-neul), the former police academy student to whom he's been assigned. He's adorable. She's unlikable (by human standards at least). Shortly after causing the death of her brother and losing her vision in a bizarrely comedic car accident, Soo-ah crosses paths with a serial killer (Yang Yeong-jo) who inexplicably crank-calls her for awhile as he continues his murder spree. Given her propensity for falling, bumping into random objects and pridefully disdaining help from others, Soo-ah may have delayed an attack by the killer because she seems too easy a target. But it's one of the missions of this film to challenge the audience's preconceptions of the blind as disadvantaged. You see, just because Soo-ah's a klutz doesn't mean she's forgotten her martial arts training as a cadet.

Now if only the academy did a better job at screening out candidates based on intelligence. You can kind of believe that goofy Detective Jo (Jo Hie-bong) might scrape by but it's harder to believe Soo-ah would have received even close to a passing grade in logic since her choices are so consistently poor. Even taking into account her heightened sense of smell (and the clues revealed by it), she doesn't merit serious consideration for anything but a sous chef or perhaps a job working with children -- and then only if she's supervised. I bet Gi-seob (Yo Seung Ho), the teenybopper motorcyclist who eventually adopts her as his older sister, would volunteer for those duties. After all the blood loss he experiences late in this movie, his own life choices are bound to be similarly ill-considered. Then again, improbabilities abound in Blind, so much so, that the movie's biggest surprise may be that Soo-ah doesn't get her sight back through the healing properties of dog drool.

June 8, 2013

The Thieves: Evidently, There Is an Oceans 14 in Asia

Although I've never seen Oceans 11, 12 or 13, Choi Dong-hoon's The Thieves strikes me as very similar to those glitzy, impeccably dressed star-studded caper pics. How much you like the movie has as much to do with how much you like the actors as you do the heist that's brought them all together. Here, you've got Kim Yun-seok (The Chaser) as a mastermind thief who assembles a crackerjack crew including Kim Hye-su (Tazza: The High Rollers) as his safe-cracker and Jun Gianna (My Sassy Girl) as a wire-walker who can break into any building. I'm less sure why he's hired Lee Jung-jae (Il Mare) as comic relief and wish he'd entrusted Kim Hae-suk (Thirst) with more to do but at least the movie has plenty of female power instead of one Julia Roberts or Catherina Zeta-Jones.

Joined by a half-dozen other shady types, these movie stars -- I mean crooks -- pool their talents in hopes of stealing the Tear of the Sun, a yellow diamond of enormous size and even greater value. (Black market estimates put its worth at around twenty million dollars.) As you can imagine, the jewel is very well-protected and given the checkered histories and double-crossing tendencies of all the criminals involved, pulling off this crime of the century isn't going to be so easy, especially when one of your partners is an undercover cop.

They also have to deal with an evil, bloodthirsty buyer (Ki Guk-seo) who seems an odd person to peddle your wares to given that he's been known to shoot the seller in order to get a better deal. But when you're trafficking in stolen goods, beggars can't be choosers. Nor can thieves. No matter how famous they are.

Postscript: I especially enjoyed seeing Shin Ha-kyun (Save the Green Planet) in the small role of the rich art collector who's always on the make with the ladies.