Steal My Heart (Review)
Steal My Heart
aka 캐치미 aka Kaechimi aka Catch Me
Written and directed by Lee Hyeon-jong
Let’s jump back down the well of Korean romantic comedies again with Steal My Heart! It’s got super star Kim Ah-joong, it’s got Joo Won, it’s got a director who hasn’t done much before, how can it go wrong? Unfortunately, that’s what we need to find out, because it doesn’t go right. Instead of a great film, we just get a film that squanders all opportunities to better itself. If there is anything I hate most of all, it’s a film that wastes potential.
Police profiler Lee Ho-tae (Joo Won) was having a good day, having just figured out the routine of a serial killer plaguing the area and leading a stakeout to catch him. One hiccup is the suspected kill is ran over (twice!) by a hit and run driver, which turns into a joke hanging over Lee Ho-tae’s head to the point where people are saying the car solved the case and not him (why no one seems too happy that a guy who murders people is off the streets nor that Lee Ho-tae did all the work finding him is never explained). Lee Ho-tae tracks down the car and driver to save his career, the only hitch being the driver is Yoon Jin-sook (Kim Ah-Joong), who he knew ten years ago as Lee Sook-ja when he was dating her.
Through a series of misadventures and attempts to protect Yoon Jin-sook (and that she’s sick with a cold, probably the only time in movie history a character will cough and not be dead by the end of the film!), she ends up staying at Lee Ho-tae’s place, while he finds out more and more about how she’s a master criminal thief. They attempt to make amends by returning some of the art she’s stolen, all while staying one step ahead from the rival Detective Oh (Baek Do-Bin), who keeps getting assigned the cases that Yoon Jin-sook committed. But Yoon Jin-sook knows she has to answer at some point for the things she’s done.
A cop vs. criminal romantic comedy is one of those obvious opposites attract scenarios that you’d think this would be a hit out of the park. Especially with Korea producing a few good heist flicks recently. But instead, things are so by the numbers that Steal My Heart never rises above the material to say much of anything. Yoon Jin-sook is far to sympathetic as a criminal, and far too eager to go to jail for her crimes when caught. Lee Ho-tae is powerless before the woman he used to love before fate intervened and he thought he lost her, and now finds out he barely knew her at all.
Yoon Jin-sook’s origin with Lee Ho-tae is a typical meetcute, using him to protect her on the bus from some scuzzy dudes. He walks her home to keep her save, her lying about her home being a grocery store (and thus lying about her name to Lee Ho-tae). Later, her career causes her to be arrested on the way to their anniversary date, Lee Ho-tae forever believing he was blown off. Yoon Jin-sook has vast experience stealing and casing joints, but she’s not averse to paying for her crimes. They go out of their way to paint her as someone who was forced into crime due to desperation, and the majority of her money comes from investments made with her theft income. By the end of all this polishing, her theft activity is little more than an amusing habit, yet is the focus of the massive police investigation.
Lee Ho-tae is introverted and totally committed to his work. It’s later revealed the reason for his commitment to being a good police officer is a comment made by Yoon Jin-sook while he was dating her long ago. His only hobby outside the job is collecting vintage Gundam figures, which might be thrown in to compare him to Steve Carrell from The 40 Year Old Virgin. Joo Won is primarily a television actor, gaining fame for his role in Bridal Mask, where he becomes a masked vigilante who fights against Japanese occupiers.
After the amazing My PS Partner, I was hoping the next Kim Ah-joong would continue to be both a good story along with a funny romantic comedy. Instead, it just follows the routine. A few bright spots come out, especially involving Lee Ho-tae’s neighbor, and his ill-fated Astro Boy toy collection (him screaming as the toy he calls “Tom” lies broken is hilarious). There is a funny scene as the rival detective comes up with a ridiculous method that Yoon Jin-sook used to break into a place, when all she did was go in the front door. Yoon Jin-sook actually teaches a class on how to be a better thief, her class learning tips on how to spot art forgeries and how to blend into a crowd.
But it never really goes anywhere, the big emotional reveal at the end is sort of inevitable, but so obvious that you wonder why it had to be spelled out so publicly. The premise at the end seems more like something the film should have been built on (SPOILER: Yoon Jin-sook will help the cops steal evidence they need to bring down criminals to earn time off her sentence), and would have provided some neat theft scenes to mix up the romance. You could even have Yoon Jin-sook be tempted to escape vs love, and all that fun stuff.
Rated 6/10 (masks reveal the truth below, dog inspiration, Tom!, expensive, inspired dog, shock and awe)
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