Movie Review: The Scam versus Wolf of Wall Street

A bit off topic, but there’s this really cool Korean movie I watched the other night called “The Scam.” If you really want to find a movie that shows you how insider trading and stock rigging takes place, this is the one you want to watch.

I think, when it comes to detailing how a pump and dump operation is executed, The Scam is definitely much better than “Wolf of Wall Street.”  Much of the wrong deeds the Wolf confesses too are nothing but kindergarten crap compared to the real gangsta stuff you see in The Scam.

I don’t know, I guess it’s probably because Jonathan Belfort is an actual real life person who still wants another chance at life.  So he really wouldn’t want to admit to anything he hasn’t been charged guilty of yet, right? I mean, I don’t want to accuse the man though.

Wolf of Wall street focuses too much on the sex and drugs and side issues like money laundering. Maybe those things sell better in Hollywood. Yet even if the movie was really long, all that time, I didn’t get any emotional attachment to the characters.

But with The Scam, you begin to feel for the lead character Hyeun-Soo, right at the start.  He’s a small retail investor who trades online and loses whatever small capital he has from trades gone wrong.  That moment when he stands on the edge of a bridge and he’s just about to jump, that is real.

The Scam

Through the years that I’ve worked in the stock market, I’ve encountered those instances where I hear about this trader who’s a friend of a friend, who jumps off this or that building because he has a margin call on a couple million he can’t pay, or this sales head who shoots himself in the chest because he owes his brokerage big time. That kind of stuff.

I literally started worrying about some people I know when I was watching the movie.    It just hit me that some of them might actually be planning on killing themselves over their stock market woes and maybe I should pause the movie first and give them a call.  Yes, the misery in that movie was that real.  Okay, for the record, please don’t think that I am actually “my friend” and that I might be planning to kill myself.  I know how to cut my losses early on.  I have very tight stop losses when I trade.  So don’t worry. (They say Iive by the tenet of POP COLA. Prolong our Profits, Cut our Losses Aggressively).

Anyway, so when I was watching The Scam, I could really feel the energy of the stock market.  To think that it was just online trades they did there.  You didn’t even see anyone on the trading floor!  But the way they sat in front of their monitors, fingers tapping, waiting for the opening bell, before they executed their scheme.  The way they correlated charts and timing and emotions and a trigger finger, you can really feel the suspense.

There’s also this part of the movie where they’re in a meeting and they hatch their plan on how to rig the trades, hype their stock with some fake story, and then dump everything on the market once it reached critical volume.  They then use the analogy of a glass filled with liquid to explain it all in layman’s terms.

I think it’s really commendable how they pulled that off. They really took pains to explain how a hype and dump scheme works while still maintaining the scene’s entertainment value   And it was clear, concise and very artfully done (it’s beginning to sound like I’m talking about a sex scene here).

Wolf of Wall Street tries to depict Belfort as some bad ass trader but it fails to do so because I don’t think the guy would really agree to having all of his past stock market schemes being laid out in the cinemas.  So maybe they can only work with all the Hollywood fluff stuff type of confessions Belfort agrees to have featured in the movie.  But I was really expecting more hard core confessions and meat about stock market manipulation so I felt let down, I guess.

But with The Scam, you don’t see too much high power office pep talks.  You don’t really see anyone from the public getting ripped off.  You don’t see circus parties at the dealing room.  But you get an inside view on the real excitement of the ticker tape and the ticking clock, the MACDs and stochastics, the wild swings between hope and despair that comes from the price movements of a manipulated stock.  Even if you’re not a stock market technician, you can feel it.  It’s so raw and palpable in that movie.

Watch it guys.

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Brian Carter

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