- 1 hr 27 min
Sparrow is a 2008 Hong Kong film directed by Johnnie To. The film features Simon Yam as Kei, a master pickpocket who is recruited by a group of small-time thieves to participate in a mysterious criminal scheme, Kelly Lin as Chun Lei, a beautiful character who becomes a love interest to Kei and Ka-Tung Lam as Bo the second-in-command in Keiâs gang.
The film takes place in Hong Kong in the 1960s and follows Kei as he navigates through the city, pickpocketing unsuspecting tourists and locals for a living. One day, Kei meets a group of young pickpockets, played by Lo Hoi-pang, Lam Suet, and Kenneth Cheung, who work for a man named Mr. Fu. Kei eventually learns that Mr. Fu's true motives are to manipulate Kei and his gang into stealing an envelope from a woman named Shen, played by Taiwanese singer Hsu Wei-ning, who is a frequent patron of a club owned by Mr. Fu.
As the heist unfolds, Kei and his fellow pickpockets find themselves at odds with Mr. Fu and his motives. Meanwhile, Kei slowly starts to fall in love with Shen and must protect her from Mr. Fu's dangerous scheme.
The pacing of the movie is intentionally slow, almost like a meditative stance, giving audiences a chance to witness the artistry of pickpocketing. As the pickpockets move in secrecy, they seem to be dancing in slow motion, and the quiet background music adds a feeling of elegance and beauty to the art of pickpocketing. The cinematographer, Cheng Siu-Keung, captures Hong Kong's bustling streets and alleys beautifully, with the breathtaking montage sequences capturing the city's soul and daily life.
One of the most impressive and memorable scenes in the movie is a pickpocket competition between two gangs on a bustling street. The pickpockets glide through the crowds like fish in the ocean, stealing watches from unsuspecting tourists' wrists, and slipping wallets out of people's back pockets. The scene is excellently choreographed, and the quick editing adds to the tension and leaves the viewers on the edge of their seats.
Overall, Sparrow is a beautiful and romantic film that portrays the world of pickpocketing in a thoughtful and artful way. It's the kind of film that requires audiences to slow down, pay attention to the details, and let themselves get lost in the world that Director Johnnie To created on the screen. The cast gives captivating performances that feel authentic, with Simon Yam especially excelling as the leading man. Sparrow should be on the radar of any fans of Hong Kong cinema, and anyone who loves a good crime drama executed with style and grace.