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Once a Thief (1994)

Leslie Cheung , Yun-Fat Chow , John Woo  |  R |  DVD
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Leslie Cheung, Yun-Fat Chow, Cherie Chung, Kong Chu, Kenneth Tsang
  • Directors: John Woo
  • Writers: John Woo, Clifton Ko, Janet Chun
  • Producers: Amy Chin, Linda Kuk, Terence Chang
  • Format: Anamorphic, Color, Dolby, Dubbed, Full Screen, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo), Chinese (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
  • Dubbed: English
  • Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region 1 encoding (US and Canada only)
    Some Region 1 DVDs may contain Regional Coding Enhancement (RCE). Some, but not all, of our international customers have had problems playing these enhanced discs on what are called "region-free" DVD players. For more information on RCE, click .
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Sony Pictures
  • DVD Release Date: April 22, 2003
  • Run Time: 103 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00008J2EC
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #275,709 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Once a Thief" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

Action film maestro John Woo (Mission: Impossible 2 Windtalkers) directs this lightning-paced caper of stolen art and broken hearts starring Chow Yun-Fat (Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon). Over-the-top action sequences and mind-blowing gunplay get mixed with comedy and romance in this thrilling crowd-pleaser. Joe (Chow) Jim (Leslie Cheung Happy Together) and Cherie (Cherie Chung) have been partners in crime ever since their childhoods spent on the streets stealing to survive. Now world-class art thieves their relationships and lives are put on the line when they agree to one last mission: steal a multi-million dollar painting for a mysterious client who's bent on revenge.System Requirements:Running Time: 108 Min.Format: DVD MOVIE Genre: ACTION/ADVENTURE Rating: R UPC: 043396084254 Manufacturer No: 08425

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
John Woo mixes it up in "Once a Thief." There are some beautiful images and sequences as is to be expected from Woo and he's in true form here. The story is a little weak and the slapstick is almost too much (it's fine in & of itself, but it's almost like two different movies).
Chow Yun Fat and Leslie Chung are great and Woo provides ample subtext to be going on under the rain of bullets. Not as stunning as "Hard Boiled" or as kinetically rivetting as "The Killer", it's still a good flick & fun to watch.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A little bit of everything January 6, 2001
Format:VHS Tape
This movie didn't seem to know what kind of genre of movie it wanted to become. It started as a action thriller movie but gradually, it started to wander into a slapstick comedy. The plots were rather forgettable & at times, out of this world but the breathtaking scenes taken in Paris & Cannes, performances by those 3 main stars with solid supporting actors definitely worth the while to relive the magic of HK movie making. This movie enabled you to catch a glimpse of the other side of Chow Yuen Fatt ie. being funny. His versatility is what made him an international star today. If memory serves me rite, this would be Cherry's final movie before she was married to a businessman. How I wish she could stay longer in the movie industry as her performance was always a breath of fresh air aka. refreshing. Leslie Cheung hadn't come out of age then but his talent definitely showed thru. Highly recommended for a John Woo fan.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Light-hearted and comedic side of John Woo April 21, 2001
This is a definite change from the usual John Woo movies. It's a very light-hearted, comedic movie with a pinch of romance and of course action sequences. Chow Yun Fatt, Leslie Chueng and Cherie Chung are all wonderful in the movie, but it is Chow Yun Fatt who steals most of the scenes. The 3 have a great comradery and the viewer is let in on how their relationships are interwoven with flashbacks. The movie plot is one that is familiar and similar to the better known American version of the movie, but John Woo has made this his own with the addition of a splendid sub-plot and twist at the end. A very good fun movie, will leave you light-hearted and smiling at the end of it.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
By D. Mok
After the emotional wreck of a masterpiece that was Bullet in the Head, director John Woo rightfully felt the need to loosen up. Hence this fluffy, downright silly, often enjoyable caper movie that merges the casts of The Killer (Chow Yun-fat, Kenneth Tsang, Chu Kong) and A Better Tomorrow (Leslie Cheung) while carving out a broad comedic tone that harkens back to Woo's older, lowbrow slapsticks (Plain Jane to the Rescue, From Riches to Rags).
Chow Yun-fat has a field day in this film, hamming it up as "Cupcake/Joey" (depending on your translation), a master burglar who becomes wheelchair-bound in a job gone wrong. Some of the gags are quite forced, but when Chow is given a chance for physical comedy in the wheelchair, he's a lot of fun. Leslie Cheung anchors the film as the acrobatic Jim, who is both Chow's best friend and his closest competitor for the affection of "Red Bean/Cherie", their sister-in-crime. Kenneth Tsang's character is pretty ridiculous, though the veteran actor does his best, but the surprise delight is seeing Chu Kong, so deadly serious in The Killer, loosen up to play a kindly but none too bright cop who takes the three young people in as proteges. Woo's action choreography is dazzling as ever, and far less violent than his usual works (though still pretty high in body count compared with American action-comedies), and the best set pieces of this film (the card-throwing punk, the centerpiece second heist featuring a lot of explosives) are high entertainment.
This DVD edition has been out for some time and it took me this long to check it out -- the packaging just doesn't inspire confidence. The contents herein partially affirm this suspicion.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Caper Film Woo Style December 5, 2005
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
The film starts out breezy enough. Likable trio of art thiefs mastermind elaborate heists in Paris. Afterwards they toast their laurels and have a jolly good time. You almost forget you're watching a John Woo film. Never fear. Guns start ablazing. Things blow up real good. Bad guys eat lead. It's soon revealed that Joey(Chow Yun-Fat), Jim (Leslie Cheung), and Cherie(Cherie Leung) were raised by an evil father figure who taught them petty thievery at the threat of a caning or starvation. The three grow up to be master criminals employed by evil Daddy's thriving Hong Kong crime syndicate. Heavy stuff but Woo is in top form here juggling thrills and levity along with the film's darker themes. The film also contains enough clever twists and surprises to satisfy the more discerning viewer. Yun-Fat is in top form here as the devil-may-care Joey. Yun-Fat commands the screen as both comedian and action star. This may not be the equivalent of Woo's masterworks, "The Killer" and "Hard Boiled", but it is an impressive entry in the directors canon.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic Romantic-action Movie! December 20, 2000
If you like John Woo, this is one movie you don't want to miss!
This movie is packed with John Woo's classic action, romance humor and cleverness. The story line is simple enough that you don't have to read the subtitles; just sit back and enjoy the actions and jokes.
The cast is another excellent choice of Woo! Teaming up Yun-Fat (as Joe) the cool, heroic figure and Leslie Cheung (as Jim) the pretty, cleaver boy, plus Cherie Chung (as Cherie the cute girl next door, you got endless action and fun!
As to all of my friends, I highly recommend this movie to you!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars John Woo makes a funny and action packed romantic caper that is highly...
Once a Thief is an action packed comedic caper that really is an absolute blast to watch! I only give it a 4 out of 5 because its overly comedic moments and silly plot holes... Read more
Published 18 months ago by Zach
4.0 out of 5 stars One explosive romantic comedy.
This isn't your run of the mill action comedy. The fact that John Wo's name is on it tells you there's lots of violence, but it makes the show more exciting to see all the... Read more
Published on June 12, 2010 by BJ
5.0 out of 5 stars A lighthearted fun caper movie
This movie is not what I expected at all. Rather than the usual Chow Yun Fat/John Woo Kill everything and then some movie, I was pleasantly surprised to watch this fun and seet... Read more
Published on April 28, 2007 by M. Herzog
4.0 out of 5 stars It's pretty good
It is not woo's best work I will say that but it is not bad. It is more comedy than the ulta violent action gun-ho stuff that we are all use to see. Read more
Published on October 25, 2006 by Avidfan
1.0 out of 5 stars Painfully bad
Ok, a John Woo film, starring Chow Yun Fat, about an art heist. It's all good right? Wrong. Oh, was it bad. Read more
Published on December 20, 2005 by bookwoman
5.0 out of 5 stars Another John Woo movie worth owning
Not as 'heavy' and full of action as many of Woo's other early films such as The Killer, Hardboiled, A Better Tommorrow etc. A bit of a change of pace for Woo and well done. Read more
Published on October 23, 2004 by S. Naimpally
5.0 out of 5 stars awesome
Director John Woo ("A Better Tomorrow", "M:I2") contributes a lot to the success of Chow Yun-Fat ("Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon", "A Better... Read more
Published on June 28, 2001 by Priscilla
4.0 out of 5 stars A John Woo "Made for TV" movie
The violence is toned down (no bloody gun battles here) and the story is not as dire as other films by this director/producer but the film still is very good. Read more
Published on April 20, 2001 by H. A Huffman
2.0 out of 5 stars Another typical HK crook fighting plot
Despite its action-packed storyline with romance, violence, burglary, cross-culture scenary, it just didn't deliver. I got bored 3/4 of the movie and never bothered to finish it. Read more
Published on March 29, 2001 by "honnybutt"
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