Ugh, so much NO I don’t even know where to start. I’ll begin by saying my yearly “I miss you” to the much too talented for this world and dearly departed Leslie Cheung on the recent 11th anniversary of his passing. Because I still miss him so much, it feels like such a crock of bullshit to hear that HK is readying for a remake of Once A Thief (縱橫四海), the 1991 Hong Kong crime caper movie starring the triumvirate of Hong Kong’s three biggest movie stars of that era – Chow Yun Fat, Cherie Chung, and Leslie. Chow Yun Fat has graduated to the elder statesman roles now and is doing a bang up job of it, but Once of Thief was when he was still in his leading man prime and firing on all cylinders in teasing every ounce of charisma and chemistry onscreen. Cherie Chung is arguably THE most famous Hong Kong movie actress of the 1980s and Once a Thief was actually her swan song last movie before she retired from a ten-year acting career to marry and live in obscurity. The remake being discussed is currently courting Huang Xiaoming, Michelle Chen, and Kim Soo Hyun to form the thieving trio of best friends.
It will make a rare collaborative effort from China, Taiwan, and Korea, and is clearly cast to hit all the major markets. It’s past annoying and gone into ridiculous that the whole “Michelle Chen the goddess” media play from the You Are the Apple of My Eye days still hasn’t died its logical death. Her playing an iconic Cherie character is clearly yet another attempt to force her down everyone’s gullets as a beauty nonpareil. Cherie was the undisputed reigning goddess among Hong Kong’s pretty deep pool of goddess-like actresses in the 1980s, Michelle needs photoshop to make her pictures even look remotely goddess-like. I just do not get. Huang Xiaoming appears determined to reprise Chow Yun Fat’s playbook and isn’t content to just redo his iconic Shanghai Bund character in a drama remake and now wants to tackle this one. I’m not surprised Kim Soo Hyun is heading to C-movies since he’s so on fire in China after You From Another Star he would have to be a career idiot not to capitalize on it. But to think that he wants to do a Leslie character….I don’t think so m’boy. Oy vey, can’t we leave well enough alone?
I’ll admit that Once a Thief isn’t anywhere the movie it could have been with three superstars at the helm, the story was rather flat and the directing could have done with some restraint. But it was still a decent showcase for the rare collaboration of these three, and with it being Cherie’s last acting gig, is still one of those movies that gets watched today by aficionados of the golden days of Hong Kong cinema. Check out Leslie singing the theme song to the movie below.
Once a Thief OST MV “The Wind Still Blows” by Leslie Cheung:
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