The Righteous Thief

Watch The Righteous Thief

  • NR
  • 2009
  • 1 hr 58 min
  • 6.2  (129)

The Righteous Thief, also known as "Descendants of Hong Gil-dong" (2009), is a South Korean action-comedy film that puts a modern twist on a beloved folk hero. Directed by Jeong Yong-ki, this movie draws inspiration from the story of Hong Gil-dong, a legendary Robin Hood-like character prominent in Korean folklore. The film cleverly juxtaposes the historical elements with contemporary settings, offering a blend of humor, action, and a touch of romance, all the while exploring themes of justice and inheritance.

At the heart of the story is the charming and enigmatic protagonist, Hong Moo-hyuk, played by Lee Beom-su, who by day is a mild-mannered, soft-spoken music teacher leading a seemingly unremarkable life. He teaches children and is deeply respected by his colleagues. However, unbeknownst to those around him, Moo-hyuk holds a secret identity, as he is also the 18th generation descendant of the historical Hong Gil-dong.

This modern-day Hong Gil-dong is torn between a life of domestic peace and the burden of upholding his family legacy of stealing from the corrupt and giving to the oppressed. The persona of Hong Gil-dong has been passed down through generations, and each heir to the identity is tasked with continuing the righteous path of their forebearer. This involves leading a double life that requires utmost secrecy and careful balancing.

Leading the supporting cast, Kim Su-mi portrays the resourceful and tough-as-nails grandmother who raised Moo-hyuk and his younger brother, Hong Moo-yeol (Sung Dong-il). She serves as both the matriarch of their family and the keeper of the Hong Gil-dong legacy. She instills in them the moral duty and the skills needed to carry on the family tradition. Their relationship is marked by warmth, comedic bickering, and a shared commitment to justice.

The film’s plot begins to thicken as a series of high-profile and meticulously executed heists grip the nation, targeting those who have amassed wealth through nefarious means. Dubbed by the media as the acts of a modern-day Robin Hood, these heists draw the attention of an ambitious prosecutor Lee Jeong-min, played by Kim Do-Young, who is keen on catching the criminal mastermind behind these sensational crimes.

The cat-and-mouse chase undertakes a humorous tone as Moo-hyuk must use all his wits and resources to stay one step ahead of the law. The film cleverly employs a blend of traditional Korean martial arts and modern technology to showcase the incredible heists and escapades that Moo-hyuk and his crew pull off with seemingly impossible precision.

Romance subtly weaves through the narrative when Moo-hyuk finds himself unexpectedly falling for the tenacious prosecutor on his trail. On the one hand, his heart wants to let her into his world, but on the other hand, he must keep his legacy a secret. This dynamic underpins much of the film’s lighter moments as well as some of its more poignant ones.

Throughout the film, viewers are also treated to flashbacks that reveal the Hong family history. The director smoothly transitions between these periods to juxtapose traditional Korean values with the complexities of contemporary Korean society. This historical backdrop adds depth to the characters, as their actions are influenced by the rich legacy that has defined their family for centuries.

The Righteous Thief is also replete with comedic moments that stem from the family dynamic, Moo-hyuk's double life, and the often-incompetent bureaucratic system trying to solve the mystery behind the heists. These comedic elements effectively balance the action sequences and the drama, creating a family-friendly film that is entertaining and accessible to a wide audience.

Beyond its entertainment value, the film contemplates the notion of what it means to be righteous in a modern world riddled with moral ambiguity. It challenges the audience to think about the definition of true justice and whether ends justify the means in the pursuit of societal equity.

Overall, The Righteous Thief offers an engaging narrative and a refreshing take on the storied character of Hong Gil-dong. With its blend of genres, the film delivers thrilling action set pieces, heartfelt family drama, light-hearted comedy, and an undercurrent of romance, all while preserving the spirit of the legendary folk hero who fought against injustice. It's a spirited adventure that captures the hearts and minds of viewers, echoing the timeless conflict between good and evil and the ever-relevant question of what it really means to be a hero.

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  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 58 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    6.2  (129)