July 28, 2013

Steal It If You Can: Don't Watch It If You Don't Have to

By all accounts, I should like Kang-jo (So Ji-seob), the sexy game-designer who moonlights as a cat burglar while wearing a snug-fitting short-sleeved black top that's half-leather, half-velvet from the looks of it. He's athletic: Doesn't even break a sweat when scaling walls and executing back flips. He's romantic: Force-feeds himself pig-ear sushi for the love of a beautiful woman. He's a tech wizard: Breaks down even hardened teenagers (like Lim Yo-hwan) with the complexity of his games. But he seems like a jerk. So that even though Sang-tae (Park Sang-myeon) is someone I shouldn't like -- He's incompetent, insufferably rich by marriage, and cowardly -- I still don't want to see Kang-jo get the best of him. This is one of those movies where your allegiance is unlikely to be strong for the good guy or the bad guy. In a perfect world, they both would die.

Since Steal This If You Can is ostensibly a comedy, however, we watch as the two men battle it out. Kang-jo repeatedly breaks into Sang-tae's house (a wonder of modern architecture) to steal midnight snacks, TV remotes, and other random items like a photo and a diary. Eventually, he decides to steal the impressively large widescreen but by that point, Sang-tae has armed not only himself (with an arsenal of toy weaponry, backed up by a martial arts technique focused on damaging the groin) but also his home (which is now a hideous booby trap further protected by barbed wire, boarded windows and an unreliable Mastiff named Nessie).

I'm all for a good stupid comedy and screenwriter Yun Je-gyun is capable of writing much funnier dumb stuff than this. His Sex Is Zero was the third funniest Korean movie I saw in 2009 and just missed making my top ten list for that year. But Steal It If You Can only qualifies for worst of lists. And not just for the year but of all time. I'd rather see Sex Is Zero 2. Maybe I will next week!

Note: This movie is also known by the title Can't Live Without Robbery.

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