Review: The Con Artists (기술자들)

Film poster courtesy of Lotte Entertainment
Film poster courtesy of Lotte Entertainment

I’m going to tell you a not-so-secret secret. Okay, it’s not a secret at all but nonetheless, I’ll share it with you. I adore a good action film that doesn’t pretend to be anything but an action flick. You know the kind… it’s got lots of action, some laughs, a good-looking lead actor (or two), maybe a little romance and a decent but not earth-shaking plot/story. One of those films that just entertains and leaves a smile on your face.

The Con Artists (기술자들) was one of those films. 

Synopsis

A pair of thieves, a young(ish) safe cracker (Ji-Hyuk) and an older counterfeiter (Goo-In), recruit a young hacker (Jong-Bae) for a big score – $3 million US in diamonds. Unfortunately, those diamonds are owned by a crime boss (Boss Cho) who in turn recruits them for an even bigger heist – $150 million US from the Incheon Customs. 

Added into the mix are an elite police task force out to get the crime boss and a seemingly unrelated love interest (Eun-Ha) for Ji-Hyuk.

Who is conning who in this fun heist action flick?   

My Thoughts

Like I admitted above, I’m a sucker for these types of films – they are the perfect thing to watch when you have a bad day or just need a pick-me-up. When you get the perfect combination of fun, action, comedy and some nice eye candy… it always leaves a smile on my face. The Con Artists was just that – a lovely bit of fluff (in a good way). 

So let’s break it down. Kim Woo Bin (김우빈) played Ji-Hyuk (the main eye candy in the film) and I think he’s proven that he’s got the chops to be an effective leading guy (and not just eye candy).

I’m starting to like Kim Woo Bin, and not just because he is a pretty face (but come on, he is lovely… and that shower scene – totally not necessary to the story but I bet almost every girl in the audience appreciated it – like I said, eye candy). Beyond the pretty face, his acting is getting better, he has a fairly expressive face with that little half-smile that worked oh so well with his character.

However, watching the fight scene when the bad criminals (Boss Cho’s crew) came to ‘enlist’ the help of the not-so-bad criminals (Ji-Hyuk‘s crew) was hard – Ji-Hyuk sucked at fighting. But as the film went on, I did wonder if it was part of the long con – fight poorly so that they would underestimate them, because that clearly happened. But got to love Boss Cho, played by Kim Yeong Cheol (김영철) and his second-in-command, played by Lim Ju Hwan (임주환) – both of whom were perfectly heartless, the classic villains.

The best part? They caught me, I was drawn into the long con. I remember thinking that while enjoyable, it was too predictable and then bam, I realized I was as caught as Cho (okay, I figured it out way beforehand but there was a bit when I was caught). Both the ending, and the fact that I actually bought into the story, left me grinning for ages afterwards. You have to love a film that entertains you and makes you smile. The Con Artists didn’t try to be something it wasn’t, it just did its best to be a fun, ‘long con’ heist flick and that worked for it. My last note from the theatre was “gotta love an action flick that leaves you happy”.

By the way – I loved the extra room… hidden so the Cho or his crew wouldn’t see it but with enough stuff in view so they thought they did see everything… but not hidden so well that the cops couldn’t find it. It was the “smack myself in the head for not seeing it coming moment” when I realized that Ji-Hyuk had a bit more up his sleeve. 

If you catch it in the theatres, stay for the first part of the credits as there’s a bit more of the film during them. When I saw it, everyone started to get up and then noticed that they were still talking and sat down again to watch about 1-2 minutes more of ‘extra’ story. Funny, yet odd and seemingly out of contest, discussion about tomatoes, played by Ko Chang Seok (고창석), who was funny throughout the film.

Was there anything I didn’t like? Well, inaccurate subtitles make me crazy – not that there were enough to distract me but I was a little worried at the beginning of the film when I saw a cute bit of dialogue between Ji-Hyuk and Goo-In with “hyung (형)” mistranslated. But since it was the only glaring issue (to my limited Korean skills anyway), I was able to sink back into the film. By the way, it translates to “older brother” (from a guy to a guy) not to “uncle” as it was in the film. But that scene was cute.

Final Thoughts

The Con Artists is an unapologetically fun heist film and one that I wish stayed longer in the theatres in Toronto (it was only here for a week). Kim Woo Bin was lovely and I can’t wait to see what he does next. Seriously, if you need to release some stress and get into your happy place, watch it – you’ll leave smiling. It would also make a great date flick as it’s one of those films that’s simply entertaining without trying to be or do anything else.

Have you seen The Con Artists? What did you think?

Cindy Zimmer

Live life to the fullest everyday - this is a the philosophy I try to live by and it's taken me on many adventures. I write about Korean culture from a non-Korean perspective as the editor/founder of ATK Magazine and I'm on the Board of Directors of the Toronto Korean Film Festival. Previously, I ran a Korean-English language exchange group (in Toronto) for 3 years to stay connected to my three years living in Korea as an English teacher.

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