From acclaimed director Johnnie To (Election, Exiled) comes this story of a “sparrow,” street slang for a pickpocket, who falls in love with a woman who desires to use his special skills for her own purposes.
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To's obsessions on crime, the living city, malleable morality and double/triple crosses are still here. Thankfully, they all take a back seat to a light, classy, and perhaps even fanciful, tone, thanks to simple yet gorgeous cinematography and a brilliant soundtrack. The result is refreshing.
Johnnie To's love letter to Hong Kong's airy verticality has a lightness of touch the match of the pickpockets that form the core of the story. This is a film saturated with the seductive allure of consumer items and brand names (from the Marlboro cigarette to the Cartier watch), and To plays out sequences not so much for dramatic expediency as for the inherent eroticism of the game played. Unlike any other film.
This is Johnnie To's most delightful film. The film contains the spirit of a musical and is a clear tribute to the city of Hong Kong for it's beauty and mystique. Wonderful cinematography and beautifully choreographed scenes make up most of the film's strong points. However, writing kind of lacks towards the end. Performances from Simon Yam and Kelly Lin should definitely be noted and requires repeat viewings.
Another more subdued To film - this one feels like he is just kicking back and enjoying himself, at times telling the entire story visually, and without any need for the shootouts or action sequences that he is so famous for. I have seen others describe it as having a musical quality to it, which I agree with. For me, it is not quite as good as the Elections or Exiled, but still a delightful film.
A fine thriller. You know, a thrilling thriller that does what it proclaims it will do. Yes, I adored the penultimate sequence like everyone else, but if the thriller genre were to vanish from this Earth, I would not miss it, neither would I miss the film.
I find that Johnnie To's lack of narrative clarity and focus gets right on my tits, to be completely honest. The opening scene is utterly terrible and it barely picked up from there. Still, it's refreshing to know that bumping into people clumsily is still regarded as the chosen method for a supposed pickpocketing professional to get the best results.