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

Hyun Bin in the Korean thriller "The Swindlers."
(Well Go USA)

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.

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‘The Swindlers’

In Korean with English subtitles

Not rated

Running time: 1 hour, 57 minutes

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Playing at CGV Cinemas, Los Angeles

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