Moderator / Reviewer
- Apr 4, 2017
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Heist movies are nothing new in cinematic history. We’ve had everything from classic gangster films where the mobsters are trying to knock over a bank, space robberies (think Firefly), films like Ocean’s 11/12/13, and countless others to entertain people with the idea of Robin Hood’s ripping off the big bad rich guy who is stomping all over the little guy. It used to be gold coins, then it became stacks of cash, and now it’s moved on to something decidedly more digital in the modern era. Laundering money and utilizing bitcoins as a mode of untraceable currency has become prevalent in modern fiction and reality during the last decade (ish), and Bitcoin Heist capitalizes on that particular niche with obvious gusto, albeit mixed in with a heavy dose of amateur hour at the same time.
We don’t usually see a lot of Vietnamese action/thriller movies in the Asian market compared to other heavy hitters. It used to be that Hong Kong and mainland China were the mainstays, but recently the Koreans have really been knocking it out of the park with their efforts, however we don’t really see much from Vietnam. There’s been a few cool period piece martial arts flicks on my radar, but very few others. Now it looks like they’re trying to go a bit more “mainstream” when it comes to the rest of the world and have struck out on their very first big budget heist movie with mixed results.
Bitcoin Heist starts out with a jail scene where one of the main characters seems to be in jail for some previous crimes. Immediately shifting forward (or backwards) a few years we come to just a couple years into OUR future in 2020. There a group of Cyber Crimes agents are tracking down a notorious criminal, known as “The Ghost”, who is using bitcoins as a method of making illegal funds from a virus known as Khimera. Agent Dada (Kate Nhung) ends up botching the operation and catches the low-level courier Phuc (Thanh Pham) instead of finding out WHO The Ghost actually is. In an effort to stay out of prison, Phuc strikes a deal with Dada in exchange for having his criminal record erased. He’ll lead them directly to The Ghost, but it’s going to take an incredible heist to be able to get them close.
Bitcoin Heist has its heart in the right place, and uses some tried and true heist tropes, but it also has a big problem with execution. Director Ham Tran has a good handle on where he wants to go with the film, but it’s pretty obvious he hasn’t directed a heist movie before. There are plenty of old tropes mixed in with new oddball technological issues and sometimes the blending of the two comes off as a bit hammy and cliched. Everyone fulfills their classic roles well, with the acrobatic gymnast who gets into the tight places, the distraction of a conman, the tough police agent, and the double cross near the center point to take advantage of its OWN distraction.
The first half of the film actually is quite decent, and the heist itself in the center of the movie is well done. It’s after the big twist after that point that things start to fall apart. I won’t spoil WHAT the twist is (as that’s not exactly fair), but needless to say the last 40 minutes feel a bit over bloated, with a second setup and heist underway, some needless romantic drama, and a conclusion that really feels like it was a bit too obvious after the twist was revealed. Basically, we’ve seen everything before, and in this same type of scenario. A move which robs the film of any real tension as most viewers will catch the obvious ending coming a mile away. There’s plenty of fun to be had, and the movie itself is quite enjoyable, but I wouldn’t go in expecting something new and clever, but rather a decent heist thriller with a few unique twists.
Not Rated by the MPAA
• Theatrical Trailer
Bitcoin Heist has a lot going for it and has quite a bit of adventure and twists along the way. However it tends to struggle under the weight of too many intersecting plotlines as well as a very tenuous hold on the actual subject matter at hand during the second half of the film to really reach its full potential. I give Ham Tran and the actors full credit for making a very fast paced heist movie with a lot of energy, but a little spit and polish in the directing and writing area could have helped quite a bit. Audio and video are excellent, although Well Go USA sadly forewent and substantial extras for the combo pack except for a handful of trailers. While it’s not a perfect film, it does make for an entertaining watch and would serve well as a decent rental.
Starring: Kate Nhung, Thanh Pham, Petey Majik Nguyen
Directed by: Ham Tran
Written by: Anderson Le, Scott Nguyen
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 AVC
Audio: Vietnamese: DTS-HD MA 5.1, Vietnamese DD 2.0
Studio: Well Go USA
Runtime: 116 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: July 4th, 2017
Recommendation: Decent Watch