A con-team couple (Andy Lau & Rene Liu) head west after taking a city businessman for his BMW. But an encounter with a naive young carpenter travelling home with his life savings challenges their fate as thieves.
Character actor Michael Shannon has been nominated for his second Oscar for his role in the 2016 thriller Nocturnal Animals. "No Small Parts" takes a look at some of the other characters he's played in the past.
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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
Professional thieves Bo (Andy Lau) and Li (Rene Liu) con a businessman out of his BMW, and head for the hills to lay low. They visit a temple, where Bo busies himself relieving pilgrims of their wallets and phones, while Li earnestly prays. Shortly thereafter, she announces to her lover that she wants them both to abandon their thieving lifestyle and settle down. When he refuses, they argue and split.
On foot and hopelessly lost, Li encounters Sha Gen (Wang), a simple man who wants to find a wife and settle down with the money he's earned. He helps her find her way to a train station, where she's reunited with Bo.
Touched by Sha Gen's open honesty and trust in his fellow travellers, Li adopts him as her little brother, and decides to protect him and his money on their journey as an act of redemption. However, while Bo wants to get back together with Li, he has his eye on Sha Gen's moneybag. To make matters worse, a whole gang of thieves is on board the train, and they all wouldn't mind helping themselves to the easy cash. It's thief vs thief as the train rolls through gorgeous landscapes, and Li has her work cut out defending Fu from all sides, not least her unscrupulous lover.
I've only seen one of director Feng Xiaogang's movies before, 'Big Shot's Funeral', and will admit to not being blown away by that. This, however, is a very engaging and beautifully shot romantic crime comedy, and I enjoyed it immensely. The product placement that seems to have offended many viewers slipped by me, and the pro-communist message simply fits the character of Sha Gen and did not seem out of place. I certainly didn't feel anything getting forced down my throat.
Andy Lau manages to be a likable rogue, while Rene Liu plays her role with a lot of heart. Their on-screen chemistry is perfect.
There are a number of 'fight' scenes between the thieves, that put me in mind of the 'God of Gamblers' series of films. Instead of fighting with Mah Jong sticks or flinging cards at each other though, the thieves duel with razor blades as they try to poach from one other. These scenes are inventive and done with flair and just the right amount of CG trickery.
I did have a problem with the ending, which - while being necessarily melodramatic - seemed overly manipulative. To compensate for this, Rene Liu's acting at the conclusion should leave all but the hardest of hearts unmoved. I have to admit with some shame that this is the first film I've seen starring this astonishing actress. It will definitely not be the last.
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