'Snatch,' Filled With Likable Thugs and Clever Repartee

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'Snatch,' Filled With Likable Thugs and Clever Repartee

When asked why "Snatch" resembles his original brainchild "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels" so closely, director Guy Ritchie quipped with the cliche, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it," perhaps hoping to follow in the footsteps of Quentin Tarantino and churn out another series of similarly violent films.

And so it should come as no surprise that "Snatch" has all the shoot-outs, comical dialogue and likable thugs of his first film. In fact, "Snatch" may even seem a little like a sequel rather than an independently hatched idea. As the script for "Snatch" was written at the same time that "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels" was filmed, it gives off the feeling that the movie was pieced together with the leftover energy that Ritchie could not fit into the already perfect "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels." As with food the original dish is always so much tastier - while the leftovers are a mere reminder of yesterday's feast.

Nonetheless, movie-goers who didn't see Ritchie's first film, and thus have nothing to compare "Snatch" to, will probably find this new episode thoroughly enjoyable. However, audiences anticipating a triumphant return by Ritchie may be disappointed the same way they were when Ed Burns, another young director, followed the sensational "The Brothers McMullen" with the less popular "She's the One." Not to say that "Snatch" and "She's the One" aren't great films, but unlike the debut, "Snatch" exhibits a very standard filming approach and does not reflect any of the brilliant camera work (particularly in the slow-motion scenes) from the first film.

Ritchie's trademark grunge cinematography coupled with the exclusion of female characters makes the film reek of testosterone. And as usual, the characters are not divided into good and bad, but instead are bad, worse and downright nasty - which you can only expect to end in glorified bloodshed. At the top of the list of villains lie the harmless Turkish and Tommy, two blokes running slot machines while trying to get a foothold as boxing managers in the crooked world of English boxing. Describing their friendship, Turkish says "We don't hold hands and take long walks in the park, but Tommy is like a brother to me."

All is fine until Brick Top (Alan Ford), the underworld boxing boss, orders the two to fix a fight in which their prize fighter, Gorgeous George, will take a fall. Before the fight can actually take place, George gets clobbered by Brad Pitt (Mickey), who after this role and his previous performance in "Fight Club" runs the danger of being typecast as a bare-knuckle boxer. Needing a replacement fighter, Turkish and Tommy mistakenly choose the wild-card Mickey, angering Brick Top who throughout the movie spouts off entertaining lines like "When I throw a dog a bone, I don't want to know if it tastes good."

All the while, on the other side of town Franky Four Fingers (Benicio Del Toro) leads a perfectly executed diamond heist. But when local gangsters discover his plans to lie low in London for a few days before making the delivery in New York, they decide to lure him into a trap and re-steal the goods. When Franky mysteriously disappears, Cousin Avi, a Jewish gangster from New York, comes along looking for his diamond and sets off a chain of threats and killings among all levels of the underworld circle.

Take as many different bad guys as you can think of, give them a motive (in this case crime), then fill to the brim with guns and you have your basic Ritchie flick. In this cops-and-robbers movie minus the cops, the criminals have catchy names like Boris the Bullet Dodger and Bullet Tooth Tony. The real magic of the movie though, occurs not during the shoot-outs, but through the satirical narration.and in the quiet moments when the characters engage in sharply written dialogue that rolls off their tongues like gothic poetry. Opens March 17 in Seoul.

by Joseph Kim

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