Review: BITCOIN HEIST (2017) ...Vietnamese Crypto Heist Film? Count Me In!


I don't know much about Vietnamese cinema so upon receiving the blurry DVD combo for Bitcoin Heist was a treat on a hot summer day. It's pretty much standard content in the options; you have your subtitle and audio choices, but it does come with a bit of trailers from Vietnam. Not sure if I'd be able to see some of these films, but at least if you guys like this movie, you can try to track down some of the films.

Now, I don't know most of the talent in this movie, but I have heard of the Youtuber, Than Pham, and Vietnamese Rapper, Suboi, as some of the leads of this film.

Right from the very start, the movie feels like a big budget Hollywood film and what better genre to tackle that larger than life feel but a "heist" film.

And I LOVE heist films.

And this movie follows that formula to the T; well at least for a bit, I'll expand on that later.

At the start, we are introduced to Kate Nhung, as Dada, who is as our married-to-the-job cop who is trying to track down and arrest The Ghost, the number 1 hacker wanted by Interpol. He's been holding computers for ransom with a virus, the only way the user can get their files back is to pay the Ghost with bitcon; which is the big point of the movie.

For most, bitcoin is a foreign concept, turning actual real money into data. Think of it as, if the internet is a country itself, bitcoin would be the currency; but because of the accessibility of the internet anywhere in the world, bitcoin is the newest way to be able to launder money across borders. The film tries to explain this concept in the first few scenes to show what the stakes are.

In comes Phuc, played by Youtuber Thanh Pham, who is an accountant for the international hacker, Ghost. After a sting operation set up gone bad, bullets start flying between the cops and the hired goons. Caught in the crossfire is the brother of the netcafe owner/gamer/hacker Vi, played by Suboi. The botched operation causes Dada to hand in her badge, but still driven to put the Ghost behind jail, she then breaks Phuc out of jail and starts building her team.

Here, the film switches to that heist format. So, it's team building, planning, execution, plot twist, then escape. I already even guessed the ending within 15 minutes of the film....which isn't a bad thing! Director Ham Tran knows the pace very well and keeps it fun for most of the film. Introducing the other members like Jack Magiique, a real magician and persona in Vietnam, Linh the cat burglar / greaseman, played by the adorable Lan Thanh My, her father Luhan the disguise artist, played by Jayvee Mai The Hiep, and finally the rockstar gamer Thomas Nam, played by Korean-German actor Teo Yoo; the director kept the performance and chemistry between the cast very strong.

Each character had their obvious goals on why they need to track, hack, and sack the Ghost's bitcoin trail; some for money, others for justice. Ham Tran and cast played the formula really well, setting up the obvious pitfalls and double thinks of planning and executing a heist...until we get to the plot twist though.

This felt uneasy as the pacing of the movie suddenly grinds to a halt. In most heist films, the plot twist is usually (and obviously) given to you through minor details and it just moves on to the escape and resolution of the film; but in Bitcoin Heist, they expanded on it to have a secondary "heist" within the film. I think the idea is pretty awesome it's just that it felt really forced. With Dada such a hounding type of cop, the betrayal should have been seen by her right from the start. I don't think a secondary short heist film within a heist film just seems a little too extra, even for a heist film.

Heist film, figured I'd type that again.

Anyways, besides that, the film really does hold up well; I think the director did an amazing job portraying the story. It shows that the director knows his cinema very well as I saw a lot of nods to classic heist films than any viewer would enjoy.

So, if you guys find yourself seeing Bitcoin Heist somewhere, like on DVD or Blu-Ray, give it a chance and watch it. It's an enjoyable film with great characters and who can deny a good heist film, yeah?



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