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Two grifters, Wang Bo and Wang Li, a couple who've been arguing, board a train in rural China. He wants to fleece a peasant, nicknamed Dumbo for his naiveté, who's carrying 60,000 yuan and trusts everyone. She wants to protect the hick kid, an act of expiation brought on by prayer and a visit to a temple. Also on board are one of more sets of thieves, including a calculating boss and his femme fatale. The boss wants to recruit Wang Bo, and a series of contests ensue, with the potential of turning deadly. While Li guards Dumbo from Bo and the others, can she and Bo sort out their relationship? And can Dumbo's simple spirituality touch anyone else? Written by
This movie certainly looks good, but it never really gelled for me. Andy Lau plays one-half of a married pickpocket team whose wife, much to his annoyance, announces she wants to go straight. On a train, they meet Dumbo, a simple peasant taking his savings home and not really caring who knows about it because he doesn't believe anyone would want to steal from him.
Ah. That's what didn't gel. Strange how writing something down can sometimes bring an obvious but elusive thought rising to the surface. The problem with this film is that the characters are so poorly drawn and unbelievable. Nobody out of pampers is as trusting as young Dumbo, and even peasants must have had people trying to nick their crayons at school, or run off with one of their goats or something. You could argue that he's a little simple, but I don't think so not to the degree he'd need to be in order to be so trusting.
Lau sports a daft wig for no apparent reason for most of the film and would love to relieve Dumbo of his money, but knows wifey would really kick him in to touch if he did. He tricks Dumbo into giving him some of it and, when a member of a band of travelling pickpockets steals the money from Dumbo, Lau steals it from her, fully intending to keep it because he didn't steal it directly from Dumbo.
This travelling band of pickpockets, working under a boss who seems to be something of a master of disguise, also doesn't ring true. Hollywood might have just about gotten away with it in a Fu Manchu flick in the 30s, but it doesn't work here. Some of the interplay between Lau and this Mr Big is reasonably entertaining, and the intricately choreographed fight scenes within the confines of the train's narrow corridors are well staged, but overall, whether or not this film is intentionally attempting to create a metaphor for the problems encountered in our journey through life, it just fails to convince and only fitfully entertains.
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