Review: Who do you trust in slick Korean thriller ‘The Swindlers’?

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Not far into the glossy South Korean flimflam thriller “The Swindlers,” you realize that every character is untrustworthy. Then a little further in, it dawns on you that this makes figuring out who’s hustling who a bit trickier.

The story’s original sin is an uncovered Ponzi scheme by a master con artist named Jang Doo-chil (Heo Sung-tae), a scam that fleeced billions from hardworking citizens and sparked a rash of suicides before Jang fled to China and reportedly died. Years later, Hwang Ji-sung (Hyun Bin), the grift-smart son of Jang’s murdered forger, and an ambitious yet shady prosecutor named Park Hee-soo (Yoo Ji-tae), embark on competing efforts to secure a whispered-about list of Jang’s well-bribed, powerful enablers.

Naturally, ready to help is a ragtag gang of scammers. Fueling everyone’s desire: the belief that the legendary Jang is still alive, and could be tricked into exposing himself.


There’s a lot of financial chicanery and double-crossing to unpack in writer/director Jang Chang-won’s elaborate swirl of ruses, dodges, and intrigue, but it’s a safe bet your fondness for the kind-faced, vengeance-seeking forger’s son, and suspicions surrounding the beady-eyed prosecutor, are well-founded. You may tire of the onion-peeling by the time it’s all laid bare, but for fans of the buffet-style of crime capers it’s a slick diversion, engagingly assembled and acted.


‘The Swindlers’

In Korean with English subtitles

Not rated

Running time: 1 hour, 57 minutes

Playing at CGV Cinemas, Los Angeles

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