Production Notes
After directing possibly his two best films back-to-back (The Killer and Bullet In The Head), director John Woo moved away from dark gritty action dramas to direct the 1990 action/comedy Once A Thief.
Once A Thief is clearly one of the director's favorite films as he would go on to make a US re-make of the film in 1995 and subsequently producing a TV Series following the US TV Pilot which he directed.

Three orphans Jim, Joe and Cherie are raised by a powerful crime lord to be professional thieves.
The trio goes off to Paris to stage a daring heist to steal a valuable painting. During the course of the heist, an ambush is set up by their own foster father to kill off the trio and retrieve the painting.
Unaware that they are betrayed by their own foster father, Joe manages to escape with the painting and Cherie while Jim is presumed killed in a car crash.
Three years later, Jim returns crippled in a wheelchair to re-united with his two siblings and plot revenge against their evil foster father.

Some Woo fans have snubbed Once A Thief, saying it's one of the worst films the director did while he was still working in Hong Kong. I disagree with the remark as I find Once A Thief very enjoyable and probably placed it ahead of A Better Tomorrow II on my list of favorite John Woo films. One simply cannot watch Once A Thief expecting something as powerful or as dark as his two previous films; The Killer and Bullet In The Head.
First of all,Once A Thief is an action comedy caper film made in a style true to the old-fashioned caper films which the director himself admired. As a romantic action comedy,Once A Thief succeeds very well, as the mixture of action comedy and romance is just right. The daring heist at the start of the film which consists of a Woo-style shoot-out and a slick car chase sequences all lived up to Woo billing as the world best action film director. The romance that follows is not overdone such as in the case of The Big Hit that even the most hard-core action fans wouldn't mind.
The cast really helped make this film shine as the leads Chow Yun-Fat, Leslie Cheung and Cherie Chung proves to be versatile enough to shuffle from the action sequences to the comedy and romantic parts with ease. The male-bonding between Leslie Cheung and Chow Yun-Fat are further explored in this film which we didn't get to see in the first two A Better Tomorrow episodes. Cherie and Chow proves once again that they have the right on-screen chemistry following their successful outing in the excellent romance flick, An Autumn's Tale . Once A Thief probably has one of the best cast in a John Woo film as the cast list is round up with talented veteran actors playing supporting roles like Kenneth Tsang and Chu Kong.
Any true John Woo fan shouldn't miss Once A Thief as it displays the director's versatility at filmmaking.

[A Better Tomorrow] [A Better Tomorrow II] [Just Heroes] [The Killer] [Bullet In The Head] [Hard Boiled] [Hard Target] [Broken Arrow] [Once A Thief TV Pilot] [Face/Off] [The Replacement Killers] [Blackjack] [The Big Hit] [Mission Impossible 2]

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