17 user 9 critic

Once a Thief (1996)

A couple working for the triad boss Tang decides to leave/flee the triad and Hong Kong. They meet again in Vancouver 1.5 years later fighting crime. She now has a fiance. The Tang triad comes to Vancouver to do weapons "business".


John Woo




Cast overview, first billed only:
Sandrine Holt ... Li Ann Tsei
Ivan Sergei ... Mac Ramsey
Nicholas Lea ... Victor Mansfield
Robert Ito ... The Godfather
Michael Wong ... Michael Tang
Alan Scarfe ... Robertson Graves
Jennifer Dale ... The Director
Nathaniel DeVeaux Nathaniel DeVeaux ... Dobrinsky
Greg Chan Greg Chan ... Dance MC
Young Ryu Young Ryu ... Li Ann's Dance Partner
Matthew Walker ... Interpol Judge
Paul Wu ... Judge's Aide
Phillip Tsui Phillip Tsui ... Fong
Derek Lowe ... Mill Security Guard
Mike Mitchell ... Biker 1


Set in Hong Kong and Vancouver, the story follows Mac Ramsey and Li Ann Tsei, lovers and professional thieves who are separated while fleeing the powerful Hong Kong underworld crime lord who raised and trained them. After being imprisoned in Hong Kong, Mac is forcefully recruited into a clandestine international crime-fighting unit by a hard-nosed, menacing Director. He is teamed in Vancouver with Li Ann, who thought Mac was dead, and her new fiancé Victor Mansfield, an ex-cop who is attracted to the unorthodox methods of the agency. Conflict flares between Mac and Victor as the trio take on their assignment. They soon learn that their principal target is their foster brother Michael Tang, who had been given Li Ann as his future wife and who has vowed to hunt down the pair for their disloyalty to the "family". Written by <ndgprods@earthlink.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


They only stop to reload.


Action | Crime | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for violence | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


Based on the John Woo directed movie by the same name. See more »


When Mac and Victor end up hanging from the chandelier, the extension cord tied between them becomes fairly obviously a black steel cable, then turns back into an extension cord once they are no longer hanging on it. See more »


[a gun is pointed at Li Ann]
Li Ann: Tell him to put it away or I'll make him swallow it.
Mac: I've seen her like this, you're gonna swallow it!
See more »

Alternate Versions

There are about 12 minutes of additional material in the "Director's Cut". The chandelier scene is much longer. There's a bit where Mac tries to bite Victor's finger. And the ending is slightly different. There's a part where Li Ann tricks Mac and Victor into holding hands, and some of the dialog that was in the aired version is cut out (the part where Li Ann tells them she actually hates roses, for example). See more »


Remake of Once a Thief (1991) See more »

User Reviews

Lacking in almost every way...
26 September 1999 | by So0hoSee all my reviews

I rented this movie because I thought Woo and Lea were cool, and I was wondering what the results would be when they paired up. Well the results were horrible: The plot was uninteresting and completely unbelievable, the dialogue was absolutely horrible, and the actors werent good enough to save it. Despite my admiration for the two mentioned above, I can't pull myself to even saying that this movie was acceptable; it was just plain bad. If you get it, then you'll regret having spent that $2 on renting it.

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Release Date:

29 September 1996 (Canada) See more »

Also Known As:

John Woo's Once a Thief See more »

Filming Locations:

Hong Kong, China See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

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