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Posted under Chinese Movies by admin on Tuesday 24 February 2009 at 12:46

Directed by: Johnnie To (this is all you need to know before watching)
Starring: Simon Yam, Kelly Lin, Lam Ka-tung, Lam Suet, Kate Tsui

Johnnie To woke up in love one morning. It’s the only explanation for SPARROW: three years in the making it’s as lighthearted as a birdsong. Pickpocketing is the ultimate high art in this flick, as precise as pointilism and as graceful as ballet (and, in fact, a dance choreographer was on hand to give rhythm and dash to the pickpocketing scenes). Simon Yam plays the dapper leader of a band of fingersmiths working out of Hong Kong, and when a mysterious femme fatale starts playing games with them, the delicate balance of their lives suddenly falls out of synch.

More of a musical than anything else, SPARROW is full of grand entrances, intricately choreographed scenes that unfurl like dance numbers and a 60’s Euro-cool soundtrack full of marimba glissandos, crooned whispers and sparkling jazz pianos. Oddly enough, while American reviewers have grumped that the film wasn’t a typical Johnnie To action picture and therefore wasn’t satisfying, the European press have been hailing it as his greatest achievement yet. The Berliner Morgenpost says that SPARROW resembles the innocence of the Nouvelle Vague, and even argues that Johnnie To has been unfairly criticized for aspects Wong Kar-wai is frequently lauded for. Popular German film website Film Starts argues that SPARROW is OCEAN’S ELEVEN done better and Kino-Zeit calls it a lovely homage to French gangster comedies of the 50s. Both Kino-Zeit and Film Starts claim that SPARROW deserved the Golden Bear at this year’s Berlin Film Festival, but that it was too easy-going and apolitical for the jury to give it their highest honor.

SPARROW is a love letter to Hong Kong, which is finding its arteries increasingly clogged with Starbucks and bank branches, while its charm is bulldozed to make way for more steel and glass luxury condominiums. Celebrating the city’s cha chaan tengs, its trams, its ladder streets and even its uniquely noisy “Walk/Don’t Walk” signs, SPARROW will resonate with every New Yorker who’s seen a favorite local business replaced by a Chase Manhattan ATM. In the tough summer months when the sun is frying your brain, SPARROW is like a gentle spring breeze that’ll leave you refreshed and feeling like your soul has just been dipped into a giant, sparkling glass of cool, bubbly champagne.



  • Video
  • English sub:  not yet.

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