[Herald Review] Despite potential, weak payoff for ‘Snatch-Up’

By Yoon Min-sik
  • Published : Apr 4, 2018 - 15:45
  • Updated : Apr 4, 2018 - 15:45

In its set-up, “Snatch-Up” looks quite promising: The premise of seven men, each with his own share of troubles, their destinies entangled around a gigantic wad of cash and a cast of actors with resumes ranging from promising to superb seemed to spell comedic gold.

But the film -- directed by Heo Jun-hyeong -- soon falls flat due to the obvious plot, weak directing and jokes that sometimes work and other times are just annoying.

A scene from “Snatch-Up” (LittleBig Pictures)

The film starts with Min-jae, a youngster played by Kim Mu-yeol who is down on his luck and bank account as he struggles with massive debt and the pressure to provide money for his mom’s surgery while being threatened by a thug, played by Kim Min-kyo.

The thug works for a loan shark and a former gangster Baek -- played by Im Won-hee -- who has to pay for the election campaign of a Rep. Moon, a corrupt lawmaker who was formerly Baek‘s gang boss. Fed up with Moon, Baek hires a washed-up killer -- played by Lee Geung-young -- and gives him a gun he procured from detective Choi -- Park Hee-soon – which is accidentally delivered to Min-jae by a package delivery man, played by Oh Jung-se.

The plot seems overly-convoluted but tying up all characters in a neat little circle is actually one of the few things the movie does well. Despite multiple subplots in motion all at once, the film is surprisingly easy to follow as one event leads seamlessly to another.

Perhaps content with finishing the enormous task, the film gets too complacent from that point on. The characters are very lazily written: the characters of the thug, Rep. Moon all look like they are carrying around a sign that says “douche,” Min-jae is so obviously the guy you are supposed to root for, and there is just nothing fresh about the setting.

The highlight of the film is over too quickly and you can see the comeuppance for those who deserve it coming from a mile away.

One may feel that there are one too many jokes. They work sometime, but there are so many that just fall flat.

One of the very few upsides is provided by Lee Geung-young’s killer. The gray-haired veteran actor is known for portraying no-nonsense figures, but here he plays a goofy killer. Watching him reminds a little bit of watching the great Al Pacino in the infamous 2011 film “Jack and Jill.” But instead of being unfunny, embarrassing and overall a tragedy for the modern cinema, Lee does an admirable and likeable job of making fun of himself.

His solemn attitude -- namely weeping at a mini-funeral pre-emptively conducted in his home for his would-be-victim -- clashes spectacularly with his hilarious idiocy.

Besides Min-jae, however, a lot of characters are wasted. Moon looks like a man who could be scary and funny, but he ends up leaving no lasting impression. Kim Min-kyo, the only actor with a funny bone, tries and fails to look menacing.

The film has some laugh-out-loud moments, but will likely not make you roll about laughing. It is not a terrible movie, but it is a black comedy film that is neither that black nor comedic. 

By Yoon Min-sik