HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Relic
Nobody
Now, At Last!
Tales from the Hood
Radio Parade of 1935
Dead
Death at Broadcasting House
Huracan
Ghost Strata
Call to Spy, A
Tailgate
Other Lamb, The
Every Time I Die
Lynn + Lucy
Topsy-Turvy
Honest Thief
Blood and Money
Rose: A Love Story
Antrum: The Deadliest Film Ever Made
Om Dar-B-Dar
Silencing, The
J.R. 'Bob' Dobbs and the Church of SubGenius
Dick Johnson is Dead
Two/One
Cognition
Legacy of Lies
I Am Woman
Alien Addiction
Dare, The
South Terminal
Little Monsters
Yield to the Night
My Zoe
Young Playthings
End of Summer
Times of Harvey Milk, The
Buddies
Threshold
Perfectly Normal Family, A
Ravage
   
 
Newest Articles
Down to the Welles: Orson Welles Great Mysteries Volume 2 on DVD
Herding Cats: Sleepwalkers on Blu-ray
Confessions of a Porn Star: Adult Material on DVD
They're Still Not Sure It is a Baby: Eraserhead on Blu-ray
Werewolves are Real: Dog Soldiers on Digital
Rose: A Love Story - Producers April Kelley and Sara Huxley Interview
Phone Phreak: 976-EVIL on Blu-ray
Living the Nightmare: Dementia on Blu-ray
Becky and The Devil to Pay: Ruckus and Lane Skye Interview
Big Top Bloodbath: Circus of Horrors on Blu-ray
A Knock on the Door at 4 O'clock in the Morning: The Strangers on Blu-ray
Wives of the Skies: Honey Lauren Interview
To Catch a Thief: After the Fox on Blu-ray
Tackling the Football Film: The Arsenal Stadium Mystery on Blu-ray
Film Noir's Golden Couple: This Gun for Hire on Blu-ray
The Doctor Who Connection: Invasion on Blu-ray
Hill's Angles: Benny Hill and Who Done It? on Blu-ray
Big Willie Style: Keep It Up Downstairs on Blu-ray
Walt's Vault: 5 Cult Movies on Disney+
Paradise Lost: Walkabout on Blu-ray
Buster Makes Us Feel Good: Buster Keaton - 3 Films (Volume 3) on Blu-ray
Network On Air: Nights In with ABC 3 - Don't Go Away - I Could Do with a Bit of Cheer Now!
What Use is Grief to a Horse? Equus on Blu-ray
For God's Sake Strap Yourselves Down: Flash Gordon on 4K UHD Collector's Edition
Party Hard: Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure on Blu-ray
   
 
  Once a Thief Picture This
Year: 1991
Director: John Woo
Stars: Chow Yun-Fat, Leslie Cheung, Cherie Chung, Kong Tsu, Kenneth Tsang, Fung Woo, Leila Tong, Declan Wong
Genre: Comedy, Action, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 2 votes)
Review: This French art gallery has suffered a robbery recently, and the director of the museum is not cheered up by a Chinese tourist sitting down next to him and offering a stick of chewing gum. Little does he know this tourist is actually a thief, known as Red Bean Pudding (Chow Yun-Fat), and he is part of a three person team of international art criminals, a trio of childhood friends - the others being Red Bean Sis (Cherie Chung) and James (Leslie Cheung) - who plan to liberate another priceless work of art...

Once a Thief was director John Woo's try at something that bit lighter than what he had been making recently, a more obvious aim at a commercial hit that took in a spot of globetrotting as well, or at least a visit to France where he could make his tribute to Alfred Hitchcock's To Catch a Thief. But although there was a superficially classy air to his movie, there was a heavy dose of crude humour into the bargain: Hitch would not have included a scene where Cary Grant stopped his getaway car to have a piss by the roadside, for example. Nevertheless, such humour was par for the course in your average Hong Kong comedy.

Even when it wasn't set in Hong Kong, not for the first half of the film at any rate, as our roguish threesome prove themselves as adept with their Riviera thefts as they do with their blithe cheerfulness in the other aspects of their lives. This is naturally a love triangle, but though they trade jokey insults it's one of the defining characteristics of the story that their true bond of companionship is rarely in doubt. We see that they grew up on the streets of Hong Kong as a gang of child criminals assembled and coached by their guardian (Kenneth Tsang), though their more suitable parent is actually a kindly cop, who they name their Godfather (Kong Tsu).

They are still in touch with both of them, but their "Dad" is less admirable than they thought (even less than that!), as they find out when their latest scheme goes awry. All they had to do was steal another priceless painting, surely something they could do in their sleep by this stage, but in true heist movie fashion there's a factor they had not counted on. So while they do actually snag the artwork, problems arise when security get wind of what they're up to and a gun battle ensues - did someone tip them off? Before this had not been typical John Woo territory as his Western fans knew it, but once this sequence occurs they should feel in safer hands.

Not that the comedy isn't funny, as it does feature some decent laughs, and there is the type of depth that the director liked to include, themes of loyalty for instance, but a sense of this being fairly lightweight stuff is never far away. That's even when Red Bean Pudding pulls off a stunt after he and James are chased towards a marina and he foolhardily zooms off the pier to crash into a speedboat to save James from a hail of bullets, so judging by that massive explosion resulting you'd be surprised if he survived. Well, he does, but not without cost, spending the rest of the film in a wheelchair in a move towards pathos which does derail the previous silliness, though Woo did recover for the finale which was more of a fairy tale ending than anything convincing. Although you do get an assassin (Declan Wong) who uses magic tricks as his arsenal, so that's something not often seen. Overall, Once a Thief was amusing enough, but not top tier Woo. Music by Violet Lam.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

This review has been viewed 2901 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 

John Woo  (1946 - )

One of the most influential directors working in the modern action genre. Hong Kong-born Woo (real name Yusen Wu) spent a decade making production-line martial arts movies for the Shaw Brothers before his melodramatic action thriller A Better Tomorrow (1987) introduced a new style of hyper-realistic, often balletic gun violence.

It also marked Woo's first collaboration with leading man Chow-Yun Fat, who went on to appear in a further three tremendous cop/gangster thrillers for Woo - A Better Tomorrow II, The Killer and Hard Boiled. The success of these films in Hong Kong inspired dozens of similar films, many pretty good, but few with Woo's artistry or emphasis on characters as well as blazing action.

In 1993, Woo moved over to Hollywood, with predictably disappointing results. Face/Off was fun, but the likes of Broken Arrow, Windtalkers and Mission: Impossible 2 too often come across as well-directed, but nevertheless generic, studio product. Needs to work with Chow-Yun Fat again, although his return to Hong Kong with Red Cliff proved there was life in the old dog yet.

 
Review Comments (2)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star is the best at shouting?
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Brian Blessed
Tiffany Haddish
Steve Carell
Olivia Colman
Captain Caveman
Sylvester Stallone
Gerard Butler
Samuel L. Jackson
Bipasha Basu
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Paul Smith
Darren Jones
Andrew Pragasam
  Lee Fiveash
  Mick Stewart
Enoch Sneed
  Dsfgsdfg Dsgdsgsdg
   

 

Last Updated: