||DOLBY 2.0 SURROUND
Before “WINDTALKERS,” “FACE OFF” and “MISSION IMPOSSIBLE
2,” Director John Woo still had a thriving career within the foreign film
market. His “ONCE A THIEF” combined action with comedy, in a way that
many American films have tried to duplicate, but have seldom succeeded.
Chow Yun Fat stars as Joe, whom was taken in by a thief as an orphan, and taught
the ways of that world, enough so, to become the best in the business.
Unfortunately, there are numerous other subplots taking place, making the film
more convoluted than necessary. Along with Joe, as orphans, were James and
Cherie, also tutored in the ways of thievery. As the three grow up into
master thieves, a sort of repressed affection for Cherie is unveiled, and when a
robbery involving a cursed painting goes awry, Joe is left for dead, leaving the
other two to marry. Of course, Joe turns up and bearing no ill-will,
wishes nothing more than to help his old friends escape from the crime world
they’ve been a part of. Unfortunately, the crime boss who raised them
would rather kill them, than allow them escape from his control, and the rest of
the film is built around this predicament.
Woo creates some great moments within the film, but it’s extremely uneven. The
comedic moments come close to becoming overly ridiculous, enough to hurt the
viewers’ suspension of belief, so important for the film to work.
COLUMBIA TRISTAR has preserved the film’s 1.85:1 aspect ratio, with 16:9
enhancement. The image is generally solid, but there is some excessive
grain at times. Colors are fine, but never really vibrant, as Woo strives for a
high-tech neon look in many scenes, again bringing out grain. Fleshtones
COLUMBIA TRISTAR has presented A Dolby Digital 2.0 Cantonese mix as well as
English mix. While both 2.0 mixes are suitable, the original mix is far
superior. The dubbing is just really bad on the English version. Surround
use is limited, however dialogue is always intelligible and free from distortion
on both mixes. Trailers for other films have been included.