Movie Review: Once a Thief (1991)
“They only stop to reload.”
Once a Thief (1991)
Director: John Woo
Cast: Leslie Cheung, Yun-Fat Chow, Cherie Chung
Synopsis: Three art thieves find their friendship is strained when a love triangle develops between them.
Chow Yun Fat (Let the Bullets Fly) is one of a trio of art thieves who grew up together on the city streets. Bought up by a harsh criminal mentor, they find kindness from the local bobby. As adults they pull off seemingly impossible heists, but find themselves double-crossed by their mentor and determine to get revenge.
Once a Thief is a typical Hong Kong action-comedy – although perhaps not the kind of typical John Woo film we’re used to in the West. When it focuses exclusively on action set-pieces it’s pretty spectacular; when combining action with comedy it’s fitfully successful, but when trying to be funny in its own right it’s a complete stinker. The storyline would never get green-lighted in the States, but it’s entertaining enough. It might have been even more enjoyable had anyone bothered to write half-way decent subtitles, but as usual we get the kind of stuff a twelve-year-old would write.
(Reviewed 17th November 2011)