IMDb > Once a Thief (1991)
Zong heng si hai
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Once a Thief (1991) More at IMDbPro »Zong heng si hai (original title)

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John Woo (screenplay)
John Woo (story)
View company contact information for Once a Thief on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
2 February 1991 (Hong Kong) See more »
They only stop to reload.
A romantic and action packed story of three best friends, a group of high end art thieves, who come into trouble when a love-triangle forms between them. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
4 nominations See more »
User Reviews:
Lighter than you may think See more (25 total) »


  (in credits order)

Yun-Fat Chow ... Red Bean Pudding (Joe) (as Chow Yun Fat)
Leslie Cheung ... James (Jim)
Cherie Chung ... Red Bean (Cherie)
Kong Chu ... Chu (Dad)

Kenneth Tsang ... Chow (Father)
David Wu ... Auctioneer
Fung Woo ... Mr. Cheung (as Wu Fung)
Pierre-Yves Burton ... Mr. Le Bond (as Pierre Yves Burton)
Declan Wong ... Magician Henchman (as Declan Michael Wong)
Patrick Hon ... Hitman
Yat Kwun Tang ... Young Red Bean Pudding (Young Joe)
Ka Fai Tong ... Young James (Young Jim)
Leila Tong ... Young Red Bean (Young Cherie) (as Lina Kong)
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Kin-Shing Choi ... Guard
Cheung-Tak Hung ... Chow's henchman (uncredited)

John Woo ... Stanley Wu (uncredited)

Directed by
John Woo 
Writing credits
(in alphabetical order)
Janet Chun 
Clifton Ko 
John Woo  screenplay
John Woo  story

Produced by
Terence Chang .... producer
Amy Chin .... associate producer
Linda Kuk .... producer
Original Music by
Man Yee Lam  (as Violet Lam)
Cinematography by
Hang-Sang Poon 
William Yim 
Film Editing by
David Wu 
Production Design by
Fanny Leung 
Art Direction by
James Leung 
Costume Design by
Shirley Chan 
Production Management
Daniel Baschieri .... unit manager
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Catherine Joubé .... first assistant director: second unit
Patrick Leung .... assistant director
Sylvia Liu .... second assistant director
Chung-Kan Tang .... assistant director
Art Department
Catherine Leighton .... assistant property master
Hsi-jen Yang .... props
Shi Cheng Yang .... property master (as Sai-ching Yeung)
Special Effects by
Bruce Law .... special effects supevisor: Hong Kong
Jim Dunn .... stunt performer
Jim Dunn .... stunts
Max Garnier .... stunt driver
Rémy Julienne .... car stunts
Philip Kwok .... action coordinator (as Chin-feng Kwok)
Bruce Law .... car stunt coordinator: Hong Kong
Bruce Law .... stunt coordinator: fire sequences and body burns: Hong Kong
Bruce Law .... stunts
Camera and Electrical Department
Pui-Chi Lam .... electrician
Gam-Fai Lee .... electrician
Wing Lok Lee .... assistant camera
Lin Yau Tsou .... assistant camera
Wai-Keung Tung .... lighting technician
Editorial Department
Chan-kuen Pang .... assistant editor
Other crew
Patrick Boshart .... location scout
Heung-Yeung Tsim .... script supervisor

Production CompaniesDistributorsSpecial EffectsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
"Zong heng si hai" - Hong Kong (original title)
"Letters to Wolves" - Japan (English title) (imdb display title)
See more »
103 min
Aspect Ratio:
1.85 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:

Did You Know?

Jay Chattaway's music from Red Scorpion (1988) is used in the film.See more »
Crew or equipment visible: When Joe and Cherie are driving behind the truck, that is transporting the paintings (including their marked one), you can clearly see the rope holding the car of Joe and Cherie close to the truck during the stunt scene.See more »
James:We're always travelling. We should look for somewhere to call home.
Red Bean Pudding:Brother James, don't say things like that.
[quotes a famous chinese saying]
Red Bean Pudding:There are very old mountains and rivers, heroes don't seek a place to rest, people won't always be dancing on stage, and trends will be blown away by the wind and rain.
See more »
Movie Connections:
Referenced in The Big Hit (1998)See more »


This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.
Lighter than you may think, 16 September 2010
Author: Grann-Bach ( from Denmark

This is about three international thieves, who've known each other since childhood. Their father was a very unpleasant man who beat them, but they since found a good-hearted cop(well, he found them... with loot) who took them in. You'll know right from when you first hear the silly theme tune that this isn't as serious as other of Woo's films. He brings his trademark style and action(slow-motion shoot-outs and chases, some of them vehicular) to this, albeit there's less of the latter(it can be pretty exciting, though), and neither look as great as they do in other of his movies. It honestly comes off kind of cheaply produced, the way it's filmed(meanwhile, editing is sharp). With that said, it does go for plenty of gags(a few of them quite creative and memorable), and it isn't phoned in. This has a couple of cool heists. The humor is very goofy, campy and playful, and I personally found next to none of it funny. Maybe it's on account of cultural differences, but at times I really didn't understand the characters' actions, and this also seemed to take massive leaps in the tone. I didn't see much consequence to most of what happened in this. The version I watched was evidently dubbed, if only a little of it was to English. Chow Yun Fat is awesome, if this did have me cringing at the majority of what was said and done(when not involving guns, at least). There is a bit of disturbing content and mild to moderate violence in this. The DVD comes with several trailers for similar films. I recommend this to fans of Chinese comedy and to an extent, of the director. 7/10

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50x better on second viewing capt_rhodes
Opening music? Leaflucy
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