Fri, Jan 21, 2005 - Page 17 News List

It looks like a good weekend at the local box office

'A World Without Thieves' is expected to be a smash, "Without a trace" is on Taiwan public television, and `Wayward Wind' is entered at the upcoming Berlin Film Festival

By Yu Sen-lun  /  STAFF REPORTER

Rene Liu and Andy Lau are thieves, ironically, in A World Without Thieves.

PHOTO COURTESY OF DEEPJOY INVESTMENT LTD COURTESY OF PTS

In 2004, three blockbuster Chinese movies broke China's box office records: House of Flying Daggers (十面埋伏), Kung Fu Hustle (功夫) and A World Without Thieves (天下無賊). The first two movies have already shown in Taiwan and have raked in NT$35 million and NT$150 million, respectively. Now, A World Without Thieves is expected to bring another hit, as it has done in Hong Kong and China.

The film is the best work so far of Feng Xiaogang (馮小剛), who is known as a comedy proficienado. His Big Shot's Funeral (大腕) and Cellphone (手機) are both popular contemporary comedies with a strong sense of dark humor.

With A World Without Thieves Feng now makes it as an action-drama connoisseur: He adds a bit of suspense while maintaining his bold comedic style. Starring Hong Kong's Andy Lau (劉德華) and Taiwanese actress Rene Liu (劉若英), the film has a very simple plot.

Wang Bo (Andy Lau) and Wang Li (Rene Liu) are a couple of thieves who have just stolen a BMW from a businessman. Taking a West-bound train, they encounter Roob (Wang Bao-qiang, 王寶強), a naive country man who is taking his life's savings back home.

Roob has such a pure mind that he doesn't think anyone would steal his money, so even though the couple originally plans to take his earning, they become touched by his sense of purity and decide to protect him instead.

Meanwhile, the pickpocket group headed by Uncle Bill (Ge You, 葛優) engages in a match of mind and skill with the the Wangs.

A series of situations happen on the long train ride. Lau and Ge battle each other on top of the cars and in the mezzanine of the train, and all the pickpocketing takes place in the narrow aisles of the cars.

Feng cleverly presents these actions in choppy pictures and slow motions to let the audience riddle out what happens during a few seconds.

More impressive is the acting of all the actors, especially Ge in his role as a villain. The character Roob is also designed and performed well: he creates layers in the Wangs. Only the ending is a little far-fetched.

For a little more suspense, the CBS TV series Without A Trace is being aired on Public Television Service (公視), Monday to Friday, at 11pm. The program is produced by Jerry Bruckheimer and stars Golden Globe-winning actor Anthony LaPaglia.

In the series, LaPaglia plays the chief of a special investigative squad in the FBI. They handle missing persons cases and try to recreate the original situation. The realistic investigative drama uses fast editing and special effects and totes a good cast, including Marianne Jean-Baptiste (Secrets and Lies) and Enrique Murciano (Black Hawk Down).

Increasing public awareness about missing persons is one aim of the series. At the end of each episode, the show's actors give a public-service announcement to help find the real-life missing person.

As for local movie production news, director Tsai Ming-liang (蔡明亮) is ready to go to Berlin to compete again for a Golden Bear Award. His latest film Wayward Wind (天邊一朵雲) has been selected in the official competition section of the 55th Berlin Film Festival.

Berlinale chairman Dieter Kosslik's commented on the film by saying, "I am stunned," as he was quoted last week on local media.   

There is no doubt that he will be stunned again by watching the film, which deals with porn actors and scenes of explicit sex and suggestive dancing. Wayward Wind is also Tsai's first musical; actors Lee Kang-sheng (李康生), Chen Hsiang-chyi (陳湘琪) and Lu Yi-ching (陸亦靜) all sing and dance in the movie's retro style.

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