Jakarta (2000) Movie Review

Cho Sin Jung’s “Jakarta” is a good way to spend 90 minutes — that is, if one has 90 minutes to waste. It’s the kind of movie that requires an audience to, as the saying goes, “just go along with it”. To think too much during the movie’s run is to encounter a plethora of gaping plot holes and moments that fly in the face of reason. The film also has a number of conceits, many of which require a total suspension of disbelief, otherwise the film will bog down into a series of improbable circumstances.

The ensemble cast is led by Sang Jing Kim (“My Boss, My Hero”) as Hae-ryong, a stoic thief who, along with his goofy younger brother Doo-san (Jun Gyu Park), have plans to rob a local bank dressed as cops. Also planning to hit the exact same bank are a trio of thieves nicknamed Blue, Red, and White. The trio plans to dig underneath the bank and go directly into the vault. Not to be left out, the bank’s VP (Da Hun Yun) has his own plans to rob the bank using bank employee Eun-ah (Jae-un Lee, “Natural City”), who also happens to be his mistress.

Before the film hits its 10-minute mark, all three parties have converged on the bank and things have gone very, very awry. Blue (Chang Jung Lim, “Sex is Zero”) and Sa-hyun, the VP, ends up kidnapped by Hae-ryong and Doo-san, while Red (Hee-kyung Jin) and White (Se Jun Kim) makes their getaway. But as each character breaks off onto their own in the aftermath of the failed robbery, phone calls start getting made, and soon we aren’t sure who is with whom, and who was setting up whom.

Needless to say, “Jakarta” is less about the bank robbery than it is about director Cho Sin Jung directing from a script that wants to — and does — play with the audience. Nothing is what it seems, and it’s only after the 40-minute mark that the film rewinds and replays the scenes that have come before, but now the audience is armed with information they didn’t have the first time through. The twists and turns become apparent as the double crosses become triple crosses, and by the end of the film it’s all very convoluted and farfetched.

But thanks to a breezy pace and some funny moments, one can’t really take “Jakarta” too seriously. The film itself is more comedy than a heist movie. As a result, the filmmaking gags that the movie pulls off comes across as entertaining rather than improbable — which, if you were wondering, they most definitely are. Most of the film’s Big Reveals depend on characters acting like characters in a movie secretly harboring a Big Reveal. And to say more would be spoiling the film’s entire point of existence, so I shall not say more.

The cast is adequate, with Sang Jung Kim playing the steely Hae-ryong with the right measure of stoic professionalism and exasperation. Not surprising, since little brother Doo-san is something of a screw-up. At one point the duo sends a ransom note to Sa-hyun’s father, threatening to send Sa-hyun back in pieces should the bank owner refuse to pay up. It’s only after they’ve sent a nose to the old man that both bank robbers-cum-kidnappers realize they never told the old man where to send the money in the first place.

“Jakarta” has its moments, even if the script flies in the face of common sense logic more than once. Try not to think about it too much, because the movie certainly didn’t put all that much thought into making things realistic. In this case, it’s all about the Big Reveal — it’s up to you to decide if that’s enough to make a successful movie. Myself, I found “Jakarta” to be pointless, but nonetheless fun.

Cho Sin Jung (director) / Cho Sin Jung (screenplay)
CAST: Sang Jung Kim …. Hae-ryong
Da Hun Yun …. Sa-hyun
Chang Jung Lim …. Blue
Hee-kyung Jin …. Red
Jae-un Lee …. Eun-ah

Buy Jakarta on DVD