The Grand Heist ("Baramgwa Hamjje Sarajida")
Official Selection, Brussels International Fantastic Film Festival 2013
“Very strong and enjoyable… it’s easy to see why the film proved so popular at the box office” – James Mudge, BEYOND HOLLYWOOD
In mediaeval Joseon-era Korea, ice is a precious commodity, its collection and storage overseen by the royal court. The rich toy with it while the poor desperately crave it. Powerful politicians scheme to control it. Tough and dutiful court officer Dong-soo is sworn to protect it. And when the treacherous nobleman Jo conspires to discredit Dong-soo and banish his rival, it looks like he’ll have a stranglehold on the supply of ice neatly stacked in the underground warehouse.
It’s the straightlaced father of freewheeling, fun-seeking bookseller Duk-moo who takes the fall for Jo’s sneaky crimes, and his best friend who dies when interrogated on trumped-up charges. But perhaps the villain Jo should not have underestimated the seemingly irresponsible Duk-moo, who now starts cooking up a plot of his own. An complex plot to steal the ice Jo now hoards, a plot that will require an array of skilled specialists — an explosives expert, a veteran smuggler, a tomb robber, a master of disguise, a diver, a dealer of secret information, a money man to bankroll the affair and of course Dong-soo, the honourable ice-cop with an axe (or rather, halberd) to grind.
An ambitious and entertaining Korean period-piece spin on the OCEAN’S ELEVEN formula of the elaborate, ensemble-cast crime caper flick, Kim Joo-ho’s THE GRAND HEIST boasts a lively pace, quick wit and clever comedy, effective drama and exciting thrills (and a dash of sweet romance), and all manner of memorable characters as its actors (including Cha Tae-hyun of MY SASSY GIRL, SCANDAL MAKERS and HELLO GHOST as Duk-moo) all work to complement each other. Throw in great set design and an outstanding musical score — plus lots and lots of sweet, cool ice — and you’ve got the perfect pick for a movie buff’s break from the oppressive summer heat outside!
— Rupert Bottenberg