grand heist3

Baramgwa Hamjje Sarajida (The Grand Heist) is one of those zany Korean films that blends about a thousand different genres and somehow gets away with it.

Set in the late 18th century, during the Joseon Dynasty, the film tells the story of Lee Deok-mu (Cha Tae-hyun of My Sassy Girl [2001] fame), the bastard son of a court minister, who spends most of his time lusting after pretty girls and exotic books; and Baek Dong-soo (Oh Ji-ho), an incorruptible soldier. Based on some totally obscure historic events; ice harvested from the frozen rivers in winter and stored in big underground vaults, is a commodity worth more than gold. And when shady government officials trying to monopolise the market and make a killing, frame, discredit and wrongly imprison both Deok-mu and Dong-soo, the two enter an uneasy relationship and form a plan to steal all the ice from the evil and dodgy officials. The two assemble a crack-team of completely odd-ball experts (in such varied fields as explosives, information gathering, misinformation, underwater breathing, thievery, cart-driving, seduction and tunnel digging) and set about the most audacious and crazy heists ever.

grand heist2

Above all the film is funny, but the action does what it should, the characters are memorable, the pacing and tension are great and the cinematography, sets and costumes are lovely. Admittedly, the CGI is at times a bit cheap looking, and the obligatory twist at the end is rather contrived, but neither flaw detracts much from this enjoyable Korean period heist film.

grand heist