Sparrow is Hong Kong street slang for pickpocket. Kei (Simon
Yam) is an experienced 'Sparrow'. He and his team make a living
by pick pocketing from unsuspecting pedestrians. One day a dashing
beauty, Chun Lei (Kelly Lin), suddenly appears, and requested
the gang to steal a key for her. The set-up begins to unravel
when the mission completes, as the 'Sparrows' realise that this
exotic beauty has been leading them onto a path of no return.
This reviewer isn’t exactly the jetsetter he
wishes to be, but for the first time in his 27 years of existence,
he went to Hong Kong recently and found the country extremely
charming. On one hand, there is the modern architecture boasting
of the urban area’s high density and tall skyline. Then
there is the contrasting aspect of the country’s lovely
historical and cultural assets like its rundown buildings.
And this Johnnie To directed movie has fueled his desire to
return to Hong Kong soon, although it has only been a few
months since he returned.
familiar face of To’s movies, Simon Yam (Election, Exiled)
plays an experienced pickpocket who goes round the streets
of Hong Kong, well, picking people’s pockets with his
three partners in crime, played by the underrated Lam Ka Tung
(Mad Detective, Exodus), the resident uncle Law Wing Cheong
(Election, The Mission) and the pretty face Kenneth Cheung
(Playboy Cops). The trio spends happy and carefree times along
the streets and tea cafes of Hong Kong, until a girl played
by the elegant Kelly Lin (Triangle, After This Our Exile)
appears in their lives. Her mysterious past soon shakes things
up a little on the charming island of Hong Kong where the
four men call home.
familiar with To’s works will be pleasantly surprised
with this film which premiered and was selected for competition
at the 56th Berlin International Film Festival earlier in
February this year. The usual testosterone filled themes of
masculinity and male bonding is approached from another angle
this time round, and the result is an elegant film which any
fan of Asian cinema will fall in love with. Just the title
“Sparrow” (a Cantonese slang for pickpockets who
are very good at what they do) is an indication of how the
90 minute movie is a gracefully stylish affair.
cast delivers light hearted and pleasing performances, and
although this film was shot between their other movies throughout
a three year period, you can feel the joy and sincerity of
the filmmakers who put this together. Watch out for the extraordinarily
unique “umbrella fight” that takes place at the
end of the film. It really takes a genius to conceptualize
something so enchantingly poised. Those who have visited Hong
Kong would be pleased to see scenes shot at locations like
Causeway Bay and Central too.
movie almost feels like the filmmakers’ love letter
and ode to Hong Kong. It may be To’s most personal yet
affecting work yet. If it has made this reviewer want to visit
Hong Kong for its charm and allure again, then the country
should be very pleased with what To’s contributions
to both the film industry and the tourism scene.
SPECIAL FEATURES :
This Code 3 DVD only a theatrical trailer.
visual transfer makes Cheng Siu Keung’s cinematography
look gorgeous, while there is only a Chinese audio track available
on the disc.
by John Li