Asian Movie Review

Movie Review: Steal My Heart


Steal My Heart (2013): A calculating, know-it-all detective Lee Ho Tae (Joo Won) attests to find the suspect of a hit-and-run accident of the lead suspect in his serial murder case. Only to find out that his suspect is Yoon Jin Sook (Kim Ah Joong), his ex-college girlfriend. He tries to rekindle the romance, only to later find out that she is Korea’s most wanted cat burglar. 

We start off with a slick, yet handsome man strutting while drinking coffee as he heads for work and in the midst of it, he is able to indirectly help police officers apprehend a thief, I suppose. At work, Ho Tae gives a presentation on how to be a good cop: you need to be a rational and cold-blooded person, no emotions. As he speaks, we see  a woman coming out of a store with a vase and walking down the street so effortlessly.

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Ho Tae and his team are looking into a high-profile case on a serial murder and with his research and study of the criminal, Ho Tae is confident that they would be able to catch the serial killer by nightfall. He goes on to fully describe the killer to from the physical type all the way to the characteristics of the person. Yep, he is that good. Unfortunately, as his team is about to apprehend the killer who is about dig up one of his victims, the killer gets hit by a car, not once, but twice. This sends the almost-caught killer into the ER who throws Ho Tae into a frenzy. He really needs to catch this guy and bring him to justice. Luckily, the body of the latest victim is found, all thanks to Ho Tae’s no non-sense hard-work. This leads him to get a favorable consideration as a next new director for the Forensics Science Department which doesn’t really match his own line of work, but we will go with it. Anyways, before he can get that position, he needs to catch the hit-and run driver.

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We see that Ho Tae really does take his job seriously as he meticulously access the crime scene and the mindset  of the criminal. He does the what, how and why and this makes him a good criminal detective. Finally, Ho Tae is able to find the home of the hit-and-run driver. As the hit-and-run driver stupidly parked his un-repaired car in his home driveway. As Ho Tae approaches the unlocked home of the hit-and-run driver, a delivery boy mistakes Ho Tae as the owner of the home and charges him for the meal. As Ho Tae enters the home, a woman comes into the living room and do not notice a stranger in her home. He reads her her rights only to find woman was listening to music the whole time. She turns around as thinks that the well-dressed in a nice suit guy is the delivery guy. Ha, she got balls, not to be scared. He tries to take her in when she casually walks away from him as he is still speaking, only to come out fully changed and ready to go downtown with him, but she still has her facial mask on. She struggles with him not to take it off and as soon as it comes off, a beautiful face is hiding behind it. It is Yoon Jin Sook and it looks like our tough cop was acquainted with her in the past as he surprisingly yells, Lee Sook Ja! Look like things will not go according to plan. hehe

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Jin Sook looks like she has a cold, so she eats her ordered noodles, while he patiently waits for her to finish eating her meal. He is so nice, looks like he made the number one mistake in his rule book, do not let your emotions cloud your judgement while apprehending the criminal. She doesn’t look like a monster now, does she, Ho Tae? As he drives her to the station, he applauds her for kinda catching the serial killer as she hit him and asks if she had her license and id. Oops, guess she is an illegal driver, no license.Turns out that she bought the car to practice her driving. ha! She is crazy! This freaks him out, not only is she in trouble for hitting a man, she will also serve more time for getting behind the wheels without driving. But Ho Tae cannot stay to mad at her because she is sick, so they go to the pharmacy to purchase cough medicine. On the way to the precinct, he gets a call that his house is flooded. They both end up cleaning the flooded home. After they are done, Ho Tae has this whole debate of either taking her to the station or not. Yea, she ends up staying at his place. Looks like setting aside your emotions from an investigation is not as easy as it sounds.

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He treats her like a precious ring, all while she insists on going to the station. She even tells him the count of CCTV around his neighborhood, worried that his investigative police team might see them together, but he brushes off that fact. She looks around his place and sees his collections of famous cartoon characters. As he goes into the story of how expensive the toys are, she accidentally breaks the toys, while he tweaks…hehe…He recollects the first time he met Jin Sook. In the past, couple of guys were following her on the bus, so she begged Ho Tae, then, a stranger on the bus, to please help her out. Being a nice dude, and not a weirdo, he walks her all the way to her house. Upon entering her home and trying to get Ho Tae to go home, a dog barks inside the home she enters, but from the looks of it, it seems that the dog is not familiar with her. So, we can safely assume that she is not who she claims to be.

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So, I guess Ho Tae is officially hiding a criminal. Jin Sook is his official live-in-criminal as she stays at his place, attempts to cook, hehe, and just be in hiding. While in his place, we find out that she is a teacher, but don’t know what she teaches. Also, we see her point of view of what happened on the night of the hit-and-run. It turns out that was indeed practicing her driving, but the serial killer was in her way. She tried to park the car to check up on him after the first hit, only to reverse and hit him again. Ha, she was so shocked that she kept on driving. She should never drive again. Ha. She insists on going to the station in which Ho Tae finally agrees to.

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At the station, we see that Ho Tae has a competitor, Korean Colin Farrell, but we see that he is definitely no threat to Ho Tae, nor his position. They have their next profile case of the hit-and-run driver who turns out to be Korea’s most wanted cat burglar, Yoon Jin Sook. Apparently, she is that good of a thief. Turns out that Jin Sook is a teacher who specializes in teaching people how to steal. ha! She is an honest teacher and a slick thief, that’s for sure. Ho Tae finds her at work and they have a lover’s quarrel. Ha, he is more mad at her for lying to him that than her being the most wanted criminal. Lol, he is crazy. He tries to take her to the station only to later find out that she might be tracked and the cops have the evidence of Jin sook in the neighborhood. So, he destroys her phone so that the cops don’t know that they are together and he gives her a burner phone. All she can think of is couple phone. She ain’t serious. hehe.

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Rather than take her to the station, he drops her home, but he forgot to give her the keys, only to later find out that she picked the lock. Ha! Classic! She gets a visit from Ho Tae’s friend who looks tipsy in the dead afternoon. Jin Sook and tipsy friend go out for a drink and Jin Sook learns that Ho Tae quit his dream of being an artist to becoming a cop because of her. She once told him that she liked cops, so after their breakup, he studied to become a cop and he went to all his cop friends weddings, thinking that he would run into her and her married cop husband. SO SAD! At the station, Ho Tae hilariously tries to destroy the CCTV tape only for Korean Colin Farrell to save the tape. Turns out that Jin Sook really knows her trade as she covers her alibi’s face with the medication from previous. So now, the cops thinks that the alibi, or rather Ho Tae, who they don’t know is the one, is her accomplice. During the investigation, Ho Tae tries to cover Jin Sook’s track and diverge the police investigation away from her and himself as well. Some funny ensures. Oh, it also turns out that Jin Sook is super rich from her thieving expeditions. She really is a good investor. Oh and Cha Tae Hyun guest stars as Ho Tae’s unfortunate neighbor that Jin Sook steals from. Jin Sook comes up with a plan of returning the recent stolen goods back to the owners, maybe that way she will get reduced prison sentence instead of 12 years.

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As absurd as that sounds, Ho Tae thinks it is an okay idea, in fact the idea is so brilliant that he volunteers to help her return the items. So let operation stealth cop begin. First, he must learn how to pick a lock. This looks like his lesson will take a while because it took him couple of tries to pick the lock to enter into his apartment, while Jin Sook just enjoys her time. Next, they go to an auction to buy back the vase that was stolen/sold, let’s say Ho Tae ends up with a nice expensive item. So, one by one, the stolen items are returned. While Ho Tae is out drinking with his tipsy buddy, Ho Tae’s cop buddy stops at his place unexpectedly to have beer-bonding time with him. Yea, you guessed it, Jin Sook is home. He chases her, though tipsy, until he had a nasty fall down the stairs. Being such a good friend, he doesn’t expose Ho Tae, but he did give a warning, let her go so that she does not ruin your once in a lifetime opportunity for a promotion, or I report you to chief. Still, rather than turn her in right away, Ho Tae wants to have a one-last-time memory with Jin Sook so they go out to the beautiful beach and just have a TaeSook moment. Really beautiful. Oh, and they finally have closure from the past and kiss. ❤

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Ho Tae purchases a fake passport for Jin Sook, and later joins her to watch an AIRED baseball game. Oh  Yea, so the cops are watching the game as well during their lunch break.  Ho Tae and Jin Sook are shown on the jumbo tron, why, because Jin Sook catches the flying ball. Tsk! Though they are not sure that it is Ho Tae with Jin Sook, Korean Colin Farrell has already planted a seed of doubt in the chief’s mind and off they go to check out their lead/suspect. Ho Tae gives Jin Sook the fake passport and tells her to go in hiding! Yea, great cop, Ho Tae. Too late though because the cops are already at the docks waiting to catch them…how did they know???? Anyways, turns out that Jin Sook is not letting go of Ho Tae this time as she gets off the boat and is willing to go to prison and still be around Ho Tae. How sweet! Ho Tae gets promoted, while Korean Colin Farrell is interrogating Jin Sook. Ho Tae comes into the interrogating room and tells Jin Sook to confess that he was the one who hid her and he loves her. HAHA! Yea, turns out that Jin Sook did not hear one word from Ho Tae  and who was behind the mirror did not turn on the microphone. But his chief and other officers around him heard. Yea, it is bad. hehe

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Pabo (silly) Ho Tae renounced his promotion because of love. I guess his chief is a good man..he didn’t arrest him for harboring a wanted criminal. Ho Tae visits Jin Sook in prison and has his singing rendition of his love for her. AWKWARD! Anyways, Ho Tae promises Jin Sook that he would be able to get her out in three months earlier. HOW? The cops are trying to get an business ledger from an upper-end, tight security apartment of a businessman they plan on arresting and the only person who can get in an out without being detected is Jin Sook, per Ho Tae’s suggestion. She does this with ease. Her sentence will be shortened and she might now become a police consultant and she and Ho Tae will probably get married and THE END and Lots of ands….

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Thoughts/Opinion/In my head:

It was a cute movie. Not a lot of action as expected, especially between Ho Tae and Jin Sook. I expected more from the movie. I wasn’t expecting some James Bond sequel, but some action of trying to catch her in the act of stealing or something, even though she was his first love would have been more engaging. The story was fine, but not good. Though it went a different route from the expected. For example, Jin Sook kept insisting on turning herself in, but bumbling, emotional Ho Tae never adhered to it, even though he knew it was the right thing to do. It was predictable, but it had some charms to it. There were some back flashes that didn’t really made sense. For instance, why did she insist on Ho Tae to sing for her, except I missed it, but I wasn’t really clear on that. She says sing for me and he does. The only reason I can come up with is the director wants to showcase Joo Won’s beautiful ballad voice.

Scenes felt out of place and some characters were just random: it felt awkward as compared to funny. A lot were not answered. For instance, it would have been nice to see one of Jin Sook student put their lesson to use. We saw that one of them tried, but got a black eye from it. Or better yet, see Jin Sook actually go through the process of stealing. She did this with Ho Tae’s neighbor, but it felt like the director just wanted to make Cha Tae Hyun appear in the movie because he owed him a favor.

Overall, don’t expect a lot of complications from the movie. It is sit back movie you enjoy on a quiet day with a snack on one hand and a bottle of juice on the other. It is not complicated. The characters are easily forgettable and so is the plot. At one time, I was like wait, is she Korea’s most wanted? Isn’t he a cop? The movie feels satirical and paradoxical and should not be taken seriously. It is not a laugh out loud movie, but it is worth a smile. Joo Won does have a good comedic timing and Ah Joong is this quiet mouse that I think should have explored more of her character’s bad-ass side.

Movie rating: 3/5 







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