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Once A Thief (1991) (DVD) (Hong Kong Version) DVD Region All

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Once A Thief (1991) (DVD) (Hong Kong Version)
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Customer Rating: Customer Review Rated Bad 9 - 9.8 out of 10 (4)
All Editions Rating: Customer Review Rated Bad 9 - 9.5 out of 10 (8)

YesAsia Editorial Description

Hard Boiled director John Woo shows off his lighter side in Once a Thief, an action comedy caper starring the Better Tomorrow team of Chow Yun Fat and Leslie Cheung! The two screen superstars play a pair of high-stakes art thieves who terrorize the French Riviera along with their glamorous partner Cherie Chung. Raised together since their days in the orphanage, the trio has been through thick and thin together, and in Chow and Cherie's case, romance has blossomed. But the trio gets double-crossed on their final job, and Chow is presumed dead. Leslie and Cherie are left to pick up the pieces, and even ignite their own romance, but when the criminal life comes knocking again, will they answer the call? And is Chow really dead, or will he return in classic cinema hero style to seek revenge?

Once a Thief blends action, comedy, and delirious cinema style into one fabulous, entertaining package. The stunning locations, the stars' peerless charisma, and John Woo's expert direction brings the world of these suave, devil-may-care art thieves to brilliant celluloid life! A major hit in Hong Kong, Once a Thief wonderfully demonstrates the charm, inventiveness, and sublime entertainment value that Hong Kong Cinema is known for!

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Technical Information

Product Title: Once A Thief (1991) (DVD) (Hong Kong Version) 縱橫四海 (1991) (DVD) (香港版) 纵横四海 (1991) (DVD) (香港版) 狼たちの絆(縦横四海) Once A Thief (1991) (DVD) (Hong Kong Version)
Artist Name(s): Leslie Cheung | Chow Yun Fat | Cherie Chung | Kenneth Tsang | Bowie Wu | Paul Chu | David Wu | John Tang | Tong Ka Fai | JIANG LI NUO | John Woo 張 國榮 | 周潤發 | 鍾楚紅 | 曾 江 | 胡楓 | 朱剛 | 胡大為 | 鄧一君 | 唐家輝 | 江麗娜 | 吳宇森 张 国荣 | 周润发 | 锺楚红 | 曾 江 | 胡枫 | 朱刚 | 胡大为 | 邓一君 | 唐家辉 | JIANG LI NUO | 吴宇森 張國榮 (レスリー・チャン) | 周潤發 (チョウ・ユンファ) | 鍾楚紅(チェリー・チョン) | 曾江(ケネス・ツァン) | 胡楓(ウー・フォン) | 朱剛(チュー・コン ) | 胡大為(デビッド・ウー) | 鄧一君(タン・ヤックワン) | Tong Ka Fai | JIANG LI NUO | 呉宇森(ジョン・ウー) 장국영 | 주윤발 | Cherie Chung | Kenneth Tsang | Bowie Wu | Paul Chu | David Wu | John Tang | Tong Ka Fai | JIANG LI NUO | 오우삼
Release Date: 2000-09-01
Language: Cantonese, Mandarin
Subtitles: English, Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese
Country of Origin: Hong Kong
Picture Format: NTSC What is it?
Sound Information: Dolby Digital
Disc Format(s): DVD
Region Code: All Region What is it?
Rating: II
Duration: 94 (mins)
Publisher: Deltamac (HK)
Package Weight: 100 (g)
Shipment Unit: 1 What is it?
YesAsia Catalog No.: 1000028684

Product Information

* Dolby Digital

Director: Ng Yue Sum


  A trio of art burglars are working the museum circuit in Europe. In the openign sequence, Joe (Chow Yun-fat), Jim(Leslie Cheung) and Sherry (Cherie Chung) stage a darign and hair-raising heist, snatching a Modgliani from a shipping container while in transit from the louvre to a museum in Nice. The three are orphans, raised by a Fagin-like character Mr. Chow (Ken Tsang), who trained them to be pretty thieves. They receive a proposal from a Monsieur Le Bond in Nice. He will pay a fabulous sum if they can steal an obscure painting, hidden in a private castle on the cote d'Azur. Joe is not worried about Jim's agility. But they always worked as a team. However, their successful with suddenly ambushed by killers. Jim si hit before fleeing on his motorcycle. with Joe covering him from behind....

編劇︰吳宇森, 高志森, 秦小珍
監製︰谷薇麗, 張家振

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YumCha! Asian Entertainment Reviews and Features

Professional Review of "Once A Thief (1991) (DVD) (Hong Kong Version)"

June 8, 2009

This professional review refers to Once A Thief (VCD) (Digitally Remastered) (Hong Kong Version)
There are two John Woos in this world - a grim one and an entertainer - and on the heels of the masterwork of one John Woo A Bullet in the Head, came the masterwork of the other John Woo, Once a Thief. A seven-tiered wedding cake riddled with deep, bubbling veins of caffeinated chocolate, this light-as-champagne romp stars Chow Yun-fat, Leslie Cheung and Cherie Chung as art thieves on the French Riviera.

Orphaned at an early age, these three had no choice but to turn fabulous and make a living pinching high-priced art from frustrated Frenchies. Betrayed by their evil adoptive father, the high life takes a turn for the worse and the three wind up returning to Hong Kong with Chow Yun-fat in a wheelchair. Leslie turns to low-calibre crime to support them as their Cary Grant charms are tossed on the junk heap of history by triad meanies with eyes only for the bottom line.

John Woo is a populist director who turned out over twenty comedies before discovering his signature action style with A Better Tomorrow, and this might be his most populist action movie yet. Compared to ostensibly mass market action fare like Mission Impossible 2, the bike stunts (by rolling steel king, Remy Julien) are fresher, the characterizations are more committed and, to be perfectly French about it, the mise-en-scene is deeper. Chow Yun-fat wears his iconic status as lightly as a Hermes scarf, and the movie focuses on he and young star Leslie Cheung, while Cherie Chung gets relegated to the sidelines to watch and worry over the two boys, much as her Peking Opera Blues co-star Sally Yeh did in Woo's The Killer.

The movie characters - Joe, Jim and Cherie - are so reliant on their star personalities - Chow, Leslie and Cherie - that the movie very rapidly becomes a meta-commentary on acting, the star system, stage magic and performance. The heists stand in for movies: some flops, some well-crafted hits. Chow Yun-fat and Leslie Cheung are impressed with each others' work: Chow with the way Leslie slays the men dead (mostly security guards) and Leslie is suitably appreciative of the older Chow's technical craft (mainly with bombs and lock-picking). Everything about Chow is a performance - he imitates Bruce Lee when he fights, he gets shot in both legs just like Mark Gor in A Better Tomorrow, at one point he even pulls Leslie aside, "Did I make you cry and sad?" he gleefully asks. He does charity work, driving up prices at charity auctions, much like the charity work Chow Yun-fat does in real life.

by Grady Hendrix

October 26, 2007

This professional review refers to Once A Thief (DVD) (Digitally Remastered) (Hong Kong Version)
For die-hard fans of The Killer and Hard Boiled, this action-comedy can be baffling. John Woo eschews his trademark blood-soaked brotherhood for sunny locations, oddball comedy and (gasp!) a love triangle.

Chow Yun-Fat, Cherie Chung and Leslie Cheung play three orphans who grew up together under the auspices of adopted father Kenneth Tsang Kong. Tsang also taught them how to be thieves, and despite falling in with kindly cop Paul Chu Kong, the three grew up to be high-tech, high-stakes art thieves who terrorize the French Riveria and, presumably, museum curators everywhere. Chow eventually wants to leave the life, but their final score goes awry when a double-cross occurs. Chow appears to perish in a car accident, and Cherie is heartbroken at losing her lover.

Still, Leslie and Cherie must go on without Chow, and eventually begin their own romantic liaison. Big surprise: Chow survived, though he's now confined to wheelchair. Despite that setback, and the newly-complicated romantic tension, the trio go about planning a new heist, though things aren't what they appear to be.

Since this is a John Woo film, there is some gunplay, but it's remarkably bloodless and kid-friendly. There are some nice acrobatics and slow-motion, but the usual shots of bullets ripping through bodies are gone. Instead, we get shots of Leslie Cheung's hair flowing in slow-motion, or Chow Yun-Fat making fart jokes. Yep, there's comedy aplenty in this John Woo flick, and a lot of it simply makes no sense at all. During a heist, Chow and Leslie do a limbo underneath a laser security beam. Why? No reason at all. Stephen Chow would be proud.

With the abundance of strange comedy, this film can be as alienating as they come. However, Woo makes sure to provide his usual melodrama and well-choreographed set pieces (the heist scenes are actually not bad), and his suggestive homoeroticism doesn't get ignored, either. Woo throws in something for everyone, but the result is uneven and filled with ill-fitting variety. It's like your typical Lunar New Year comedy. Or a salad.

Given all that, the film can only be described with one phrase: mixed bag. Once a Thief is a movie of many different parts, and none of them really belong in the same film. The gorgeous foreign locations and attractive cinematography recall Alfred Hitchock/Cary Grant collaborations. The three stars of Once a Thief are right at home in that setting (with Cherie Chung winning the glamour award), but sophomoric humor and just plain weirdness recalls Wong Jing/Stephen Chow mo lei tau. There is a great deal of fun to be had here, and the utter bizarreness can be fascinating, but is this really a good film? For comparison's sake, consider this: did Bruce Willis' Hudson Hawk give you the uncontrollable giggles? If so, then Once a Thief will prove worthy of your time.

by Kozo -

This original content has been created by or licensed to, and cannot be copied or republished in any medium without the express written permission of

Customer Review of "Once A Thief (1991) (DVD) (Hong Kong Version)"

Average Customer Rating for this Edition: Customer Review Rated Bad 9 - 9.8 out of 10 (4)
Average Customer Rating for All Editions of this Product: Customer Review Rated Bad 9 - 9.5 out of 10 (8)

Kevin Kennedy
See all my reviews

March 14, 2011

This customer review refers to Once A Thief (DVD) (Digitally Remastered) (Hong Kong Version)
Jerrybuilt comedic actioner Customer Review Rated Bad 8 - 8 out of 10
A lot about "Once a Thief" is explained by the circumstances in which it was made: It was hurriedly filmed and edited with a script that was being written on the fly in order debut in time for the Chinese New Year. Its star-studded cast, exotic foreign locales, and wild mixture of action, romance, and comedy proved to be catnip for Hong Kong movie-goers. They turned out in droves. But there's no escaping the fact that "Once a Thief" is a slapdash effort.

Jim (Leslie Cheung), Joe (Chow Yun Fat), and Cherie (Cherie Chung) grew up together as orphaned urchins on the mean streets of Hong Kong. One surrogate father, a kind of latter-day Fagin, teaches the kids to pick pockets. Another surrogate father, a police officer, tries to keep them on the straight and narrow. Now all grown up, Jim, Joe, and Cherie are international art thieves, skilled at foiling even the most elaborate theft prevention systems. Cherie yearns to settle down and give up their life of crime, but Jim and Joe yearn for one more big score -- but have they finally bitten off more than they can chew?

The film lurches unsteadily from action to slapstick comedy to romance, never slowing to ponder the implications of its events. For example, wouldn't the love triangle among Jim, Joe, and Cherie place strains upon their relationship? Wouldn't the spectacular heists these thieves pull off require some kind of advance planning? And are there no moral implications to all the corpses left in the wake of this trio's thievery? Perhaps it's best not to let logic get in the way. Turn off your brain and enjoy Leslie, Cherie, and Chow looking glamorous and acting silly and director John Woo's inevitable bullet ballets. "Once a Thief" provides glossy entertainment.
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Phoenix Lin
See all my reviews

March 25, 2007

This customer review refers to Once A Thief (1991) (DVD) (Taiwan version)
Great Fun & Action Customer Review Rated Bad 9 - 9 out of 10
Now this is what I call Hong Kong cinema. It's fun, it's clever, there's action, there's tension. Plus there is a believable relationship between the characters that make the audience love them even more. There's even classic Hong Kong gun play that is this art form at it's best. Forget the American re-make; this is the original and it should have stayed this way.
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September 12, 2003

Worth buying Customer Review Rated Bad 10 - 10 out of 10
A movie full of fun, action and romance. Beautiful people, beautiful sceneries, beautifully done.

Leslie's Tango, Oh my God, out of this world. :)
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May 20, 2003

Leslie forever Customer Review Rated Bad 10 - 10 out of 10
This is one of my favorite movies. Leslie is so cute. Leslie, I love you!
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April 3, 2003

This customer review refers to Once A Thief (1991) (VCD) (Hong Kong Version)
one of the best films of Leslie Customer Review Rated Bad 10 - 10 out of 10
I've been looking everywhere for this vcd...still haven't found it....
it's one of the best movies I've seen when i was a yeah....i was hoping to get the VCD so I can watch it again....
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