6.8/10
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29 user 23 critic

Zong heng si hai (1991)

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.

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4 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Credited cast:
... Red Bean Puddin - Joe (as Chow Yun Fat)
... James - Jim
... Red Bean - Cheri
Kong Chu ... Chu - Dad
... Chow - Father
David Wu ... Auctioneer
... 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
... Young Red Bean - Young Cherie (as Lina Kong)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Kin-Shing Choi ... Guard
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Storyline

Once a Thief is an action/comedy/romance movie involving the plight of three master thieves (in the mode of Pink Panther). All three were raised by the same father and in fact were most certainly street orphans. The story begins with a successful art heist followed by a pledge to make this the last crime ever for the trio. The plot revolves around the theft of a mysterious "cursed" painting and how its obsession affects the family. Written by <sysop@hal9k.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

art | thief | painting | gun fu | kung fu | See All (41) »

Taglines:

They only stop to reload.


Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

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Release Date:

2 February 1991 (Hong Kong)  »

Also Known As:

Once a Thief  »

Filming Locations:

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Box Office

Gross USA:

HKD 33,397,149, 31 December 1991
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The time elapsed between the first day of shooting and the first public screening of the finished film was ten weeks. See more »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

Red Bean: I want to live somewhere peaceful, that isn't at war.
Red Bean Pudding: Iraq? There's no war in Iraq. Or go to heaven, they have clean air!
See more »

Connections

Featured in Rémy Julienne: 50 ans de cascades (2013) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Breezy caper with intrusive comedy asides
26 January 2005 | by See all my reviews

ONCE A THIEF (Zong Heng Si Hai)

Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Sound format: Mono

Three professional thieves (Chow Yun-fat, Leslie Cheung and Cherie Chung) steal a valuable painting coveted by their villainous mentor (Kenneth Tsang), leading to violent retribution.

John Woo redeemed the commercial failure of his masterpiece BULLET IN THE HEAD (1990) with this breezy comedy-caper, designed to restore his directorial fortunes at home and abroad. Originally conceived as a dark-hearted tragedy, Woo and co-screenwriter Clifton Ko (FOREVER YOURS) re-tooled the project for a Chinese New Year release, allowing the director to indulge his fondness for French New Wave cinema by setting much of the narrative within continental Europe, toplined by some of HK's biggest - and most iconic - movie stars. Chow overplays his role as an experienced jewel thief who alienates his loved ones by refusing to take life seriously, while Cheung and Chung are sympathetic and beautiful as his trusted sidekicks (the scene in which they dance the tango at a swank party is one of the highlights of their respective careers). Typically of Woo, the action scenes are fluid, dynamic and endlessly inventive, photographed with glossy precision by world-class cinematographer Poon Hang-sang (SHANGHAI GRAND). Planned and executed within a three month period (!), the movie overcomes its rough edges and jarring comic interludes (get a load of that final scene!) to emerge as an irresistible blend of big stars, fancy glamour and creative set-pieces. Woo returned to the story in 1996 for a Canadian TV movie (using the same title) which was dismissed by fans and general audiences alike, and quickly disappeared. Stick with the original.

(Cantonese dialogue)


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