The Thieves (2012)
Choi Dong-hoon, South Korea
I don't know if this necessarily qualifies as a South Korean/Hong Kong co-production (IMDb seems to only list out Korean production companies), but at least in spirit, The Thieves is a perfect collaboration between two of my favourite film industries. When it comes to the co-production world, Hong Kong is now immortally linked to China when it comes to co-productions. But financial and star power aside, it's hard to know exactly why a collaboration between these two industries is needed from a creative standpoint. There are exceptions, for sure, but for the most part, one does not tend to get excited over a Hong Kong/China co-production. With The Thieves, you have Simon Yam leading an awesome cast of Hong Kong thespians in a way that is both warranted and welcomed with open arms. These Hong Kong characters aren't just figureheads that play to typical Chinese stereotypes, which could have easily been the case given that this is by and large a fast-paced heist movie. Instead, we find actual characterizations and mini story arcs that are well thought out, and more important, actually matter. As expected, Simon Yam kills it and plays a role that easily matches what he would have played in a Hong Kong movie. Might seem like a simple feat, but something like this is actually quite rare when it comes to co-productions. Moreover, this movie is just fun and extremely well crafted. Even if you aren't a fan of My Sassy Girl and have no idea who Jun Ji-hyun is, you will surely remember her by the time the movie ends. While one might be tempted to call The Thieves South Korea's answer to the Ocean's franchise. And although not completely inaccurate, if anything, it's really a much louder and more poignant response.