A World Without Thieves
((summary taken from AsianMediaWiki))
Wang Bo (Andy Lau) and Wang Li (Rene Liu) should have made the perfect Bonnie and Clyde: the former a seasoned con man and master pickpocket from Hong Kong, the latter a grifter femme fatale from Taiwan. Partners in crime and passion, the couple swindle their way across China, until one fine day Li suddenly decides to call it quits, both to her egregious lifestyle and to her entanglement with Bo. It is at this crossroad in their lives and relationships that they run into Fu Gen in a train station, an encounter that will alter their fate forever.
This movie really wasn't what I was expecting. I don't know if it was because of my own assumptions, or because the summary I read was misleading... but whatever the case, I was a little let down. It was good... just not as good as I thought it would be. (ie; I have no idea if the summary above is the one I read before watching.)
The strongest pull for me were the characters and the story. I liked the main couple, and how they gradually try to do the right thing, despite everything that stands in their way. You wouldn't think something like that would be so difficult... but in this world, apparently it is. I really liked the main girl: how she wanted what was best for her baby and sort of took Dumbo under her wing. I really wanted her and her boyfriend to protect the poor sap, to be successful and make a change--and that's the reason I kept watching from start to finish.
The directing I thought was pretty mediocre. It didn't really stand out to me much, and a lot of the shots were jarring and quick. There would be a sequence of pictures, and they would flash past the screen so fast, you'd miss it all.
Now that I think about it, I didn't like the way it was directed at all, lol...
But I did like the scenes where they were trying to steal from each other. Even though it was hard to follow at times, it was still cool to see who would come out victorious. Especially the little competitions that kept going on between the main guy and the group of thieves. The main guy was awesome! And I liked how close and in love the two main characters were... and seeing how her pregnancy affected them both.
I do have one huge complaint though...
I can't say it was exactly bad. The music and the set up... it worked really well, and I definitely wasn't expecting it. And when you think about it, it was actually pretty realistic considering the tone, style, and circumstances of the movie... but still... it was just stupid. If it had ended on a different note, I could have at least walked away feeling something. Or at best, felt like it was trying to make a point, or say something about society or the nature of people in general. But now, I really don't get what the director/writer was trying to say at all: Is it a bad thing to be so naive and trusting? Is it truly impossible to change your life around? Is dishonesty and opportunism human nature?
Are all Chinese films this ambiguous?
This movie could have been so much more than what it was: it left me with more questions than answers, and in the end, left me feeling disappointed and empty...
"People can't be worse than wolves."
Oh well. At least it was entertaining.
(On another note: I just found out that this is actually a really popular film in China, and that it even won several awards. And everyone--including the critics--seemed to like it. Shows how much I know, lol. But I'm still not changing my rating. :P)