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Motley Crew in ‘Ladrón Que Roba a Ladrón’ Pay Spanish Homage to ‘Ocean’s Eleven’

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HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 3.5/5CHICAGO – There’s a Latin American proverb that goes like so: “A thief who steals from a thief will receive 100 years of forgiveness.”

On the “you probably haven’t heard of this film but you’d do well to learn about it” front, “Ladrón Que Roba a Ladrón” is the Spanish-speaking telenovela surprise of the weekend.

Fernando Colunga in Ladrón Que Roba a Ladrón
Fernando Colunga (right) scheming in “Ladrón Que Roba a Ladrón”.
Photo credit: Dan Austin

The Hollywood heist film, whose title translates to a “thief who robs a thief,” is loudly likened to the Latino version of “Ocean’s Eleven”.

While it’s easy to lambaste a film that’s obviously derived from an inspirational predecessor, props go to director Joe Menendez and writer JoJo Henrickson (who also appears in the film) for successfully advancing a U.S.-created plotline and uniquely delivering a story that stands on its own.

The film makes use of two former crack thieves who mobilize to strip clean the king of the crooks: Moctesuma Valdez. He’s an unethically powerful television infomercial mastermind who practically prints money for a living.

Saúl Lisazo in Ladrón Que Roba a Ladrón
Saúl Lisazo in “Ladrón Que Roba a Ladrón”.
Photo credit: Dan Austin

Like Danny Ocean’s band of bandits, this film’s posse rallies together for costly payback. Instead of using experts as in “Ocean’s Eleven,” the leaders use criminal amateurs with just the right trades.

With a plan to go undercover as day laborers and rob Valdez right under his nose, their secret is in the use of real day laborers. The film is full of humor and heart and the characters are distinct and memorable.

There’s the TV repair-shop guy who’s also an electronics connoisseur, the valet and his mechanic daughter in charge of transportation who you’d think is a man trapped in one fine-looking female body, the Cuban refugee actor and master of disguises and, of course, the metrosexual ditch digger.

Saul Lisazo in Ladrón Que Roba a Ladrón
Gabriel Soto (center) and Miguel Varoni (right) in “Ladrón Que Roba a Ladrón”.
Photo credit: Dan Austin

Every gaggle of pilferers has to have a metrosexual ditch digger.

Excellently portrayed through the lens of this explosively growing and long-neglected culture in Hollywood, “Ladrón Que Roba a Ladrón” is a powerfully potent reminder of the mounting influence of the Spanish language, its speakers and its filmmakers.

Subtitled in English and opening in limited theaters on Friday, this film’s cast of actors likely unfamiliar to you offers a well-acted and well-scripted performance on a low budget.

HollywoodChicago.com editor-in-chief Adam Fendelman


© 2007 Adam Fendelman, HollywoodChicago.com

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