A World Without Thieves DVD Review (Region 0)

Seth Gecko

retired member
<P STYLE='text-align: center'><FONT STYLE='font-size: 18px'><IMG SRC='http://www.avforums.com/dvdreviews/images/AWorldWithoutThieves/AWorldWithoutThievesR0.jpg' ALT='A WORLD WITHOUT THIEVES DVD cover artwork' ALIGN='RIGHT'>A WORLD WITHOUT THIEVES</FONT><br>Reviewed September 2005 by <A HREF='search.php?do=process&query=Neil Wilson&showposts=1&forumchoice[]=107&forumchoice[]=197' target='_top'>Neil Wilson</A>.</P><P><B>The Movie : 8</B></P><P> Xiaogang Feng is certainly not a name many but the most ardent followers of Asia cinema will be familiar with, but the director has built up a strong and commercially reputable reputation in mainland China. With his latest opus ‘A World Without Thieves’, Feng furthers his reputation as one of the countries leading exponents of commercial filmmaking and this may well be the film that gains him some overdue acclaim in the West. </p> <P> The plot of the film concerns two lovers, Wang Bo (Andy Lau) and Wang Li (Rene Liu), who make their money through grifting and confidence tricks. Wang Bo is a seasoned con man, happy in his work and the life it has afforded him, but things go array when Wang Li discovers pangs of guilt on her conscience. She decides to leave the profession and seek spiritual redemption by following an honest life. Wang Li meets up with Dumbo (Baoqiang Wang), a simple and naive carpenter. Dumbo has decided to head home with his life savings to start a new life and find a bride. He travels with the couple on a crowded train journey across the country. The train however is packed with a team of professional thieves, all of whom have their eye on the impressive riches kept in Dumbo’s simple satchel. </p> <P> What follows is a savvy and entertaining adventure that takes its cues from classic escapist films such as George Roy Hill’s ‘The Sting’ and Arthur Hiller’s ‘Silver Streak’. Wang Li is so touched by the goodness and purity of Dumbo (who cannot see the bad in any person), that she vows to protect his money from the prying hands of master thief Uncle Bill (You Ge) and his cohorts. The same cannot be said for Wang Bo. Lacking the moral fibre of his partner, his interest in protecting Dumbo is a personal one: he wants the loot for himself. It becomes thief against thief as each grifter tries to outsmart the other, all under the nose of the docile Dumbo, oblivious to the games being played with his future. </p> <P> This cracking little caper is a prime example that popular Asian cinema isn’t all about horror, and can more than hold it’s own against its Western counterparts in various genre’s. Xiaogang Feng keeps the action going at a pace, and it is to his credit that the limited set that is the train is never made to compromise the film. The cinematography is beautiful, making the best use of the awe-inspiring landscapes which provide a welcome contrast to the claustrophobia of the train carriage. Andy Lau proves once again what a versatile and effective actor he is (potentially another cross-over star in the making) and he is more than ably backed up by impressive performances from all the principle actors, not least Baoqiang Wang whose perfectly judged portrayal as the hapless Dumbo is a joy to watch. The movie is nicely balanced between detailed character driven interplay and staple balletic action scenes, providing a feast for the eyes without patronising the brain (Hollywood take note). The film succeeds because it strives to make us care for the characters and engross ourselves in their actions and motivations. We are as much in league with the naive goodness of Dumbo as we are entertained by the amoral trickery of Wang Bo. We watch enthralled equally by the development and growth of the characters as we are to the slick and addictive plotline, which serves as a testament to Feng’s success in balancing the two to perfection. This is at its centre a film about the possibilities of redemption for characters who fall between the lines of good and bad, and must choose through their actions which route to take that may determine their ultimate fate. An action adventure with a heart, this is a minor gem of a film. </p><P><B>Picture : 7</B></P><P> The picture quality present here is overall very good, and the beautiful outdoor cinematography is handsomely realised in this 2.35:1 anamorphic frame. Colours are solid, and the action is nicely rendered with no noticeable artefacts. For a film as recent as this it is by no means perfect however. There is occasional light print damage present, although at minimal amounts. Likewise there is very slight edge enhancement sporadically through the film. Colours too, seem a touch over-saturated and garish, although they remain stable throughout. Nevertheless, this is overall a solid transfer, whose minor faults do not deter from the viewing experience in any major way. The good outweighs the bad. </p><P STYLE='text-align: center'><IMG SRC='http://www.avforums.com/dvdreviews/images/AWorldWithoutThieves/AWorldWithoutThievesR0_1.jpg' ALT='A WORLD WITHOUT THIEVES'></P><P><B>Sound : 8</B></P><P> The disc comes with both DTS-ES and Dolby Digital 6.1 mixes (in both original Mandarin and dubbed Cantonese), and both audio tracks are superb. The DTS-ES track wins out by providing extra clarity and depth to the sound, but both are winners here, offering a rich and all-encompassing audio which makes full use of all speakers for a true surround sound experience. The tone is warm, clear and a delight to listen to, equally impressive in dealing with both bombastic action and the quieter more thoughtful moments. The audio does however lose one mark for having a tendency on occasion to present the musical score at a much higher volume than the dialogue, hence resulting in copious use of the volume control. This happens very rarely however and is not a major concern, being the only slight blip on an otherwise stellar track. Very impressive indeed. </p><P STYLE='text-align: center'><IMG SRC='http://www.avforums.com/dvdreviews/images/AWorldWithoutThieves/AWorldWithoutThievesR0_2.jpg' ALT='A WORLD WITHOUT THIEVES'></P><P><B>Extras : 5</B></P><P> Mega Star have provided a second disc of additional features which are alas, less impressive upon viewing than they look initially on paper. Top of the selection is a collection of six deleted scenes with optional English subtitles. These scenes seem obviously cut from the final edit to maintain the pacing of the film, as they offer no real revelations or drastically change the film in any sense. They provide an entertaining and passable look thorough, but nothing more. </p> <P> Sadly the other features are nowhere near as meaty or comprehensive. There is a brief 6 minute featurette (sadly presented with no English subtitle) which contains interviews with the director and principle cast, and a comprehensive photo montage which runs for just over 10 minutes and offers some interesting behind the scenes footage. After these two, it is pretty much downhill with padding and fluff all the way. There is the obligatory trailer for the film, as well as trailers and previews for ‘Initial D’ and the ‘Infernal Affairs’ films. Also included are cast and crew bio’s and, by far the most pointless addition, a option entitled ‘The Story’ which does exactly what it says on the tin and basically tells you the plot. Useful for all those people who buy the DVD but don’t actually want to bother to watch the film then, but not much cop for the other 99.9% of buyers. The extras aren’t a disaster by any means, but they do flatter to deceive, and more really should have been done to justify a 2-disc set. </p><P STYLE='text-align: center'><IMG SRC='http://www.avforums.com/dvdreviews/images/AWorldWithoutThieves/AWorldWithoutThievesR0_3.jpg' ALT='A WORLD WITHOUT THIEVES'></P><P><B>Trivia</B><br><P>For user information we use Bitrate 1.4 to scan the disk for the video bitrate, which also calculates the average bitrate. Below is a graph illustrating the bitrate of the disk, including the average bitrate reading. This disk averaged at 7.82 Mbps. </p></P><P STYLE='text-align: center'><IMG SRC='http://www.avforums.com/dvdreviews/images/AWorldWithoutThieves/AWorldWithoutThievesR0_BR.jpg' ALT='A WORLD WITHOUT THIEVES'></P><P><B>Verdict : 7</B></P><P> ‘A World Without Thieves’ provides a consistently entertaining couple of hours and fans of both Eastern films and classic caper movies will find much of enjoyment. The DVD, whilst not being perfect, is still a more than decent effort with above average picture, wonderful sound and a passable selection of additional materials. </p><div ALIGN='CENTER'>Review Disc Supplied by <a href="http://global.yesasia.com/assocred.asp?W7QIPXOV+/en/prdTransfer.aspx/pid-1003940861" target=”_blank”><img src="http://www.wvip.co.uk/images/dvd/SuppliersLogos/YesAsia.jpg" Align="absmiddle"></a><br>Please support us by using our review sponsors.</div><TABLE border='0' CELLPADDING='0' CELLSPACING='2' WIDTH='100%'><TR><TD COLSPAN='2'><B>A WORLD WITHOUT THIEVES (2004)</B></TD></TR><TR><TD WIDTH='65' VALIGN='TOP'>Genre</TD><TD><A HREF='http://www.avforums.com/dvdreviews/dvdreviews.php?include=exact&searchfield=genre&search_for=DRAMA' target='_blank'>DRAMA</A></TD></TR><TR><TD WIDTH='65' VALIGN='TOP'>Director</TD><TD><A HREF='http://www.avforums.com/dvdreviews/dvdreviews.php?include=all&searchfield=director&search_for=XIAOGANG FENG' target='_blank'>XIAOGANG FENG</A></TD></TR><TR><TD WIDTH='65' VALIGN='TOP'>Stars</TD><TD><A HREF='http://www.avforums.com/dvdreviews/dvdreviews.php?include=all&searchfield=stars&search_for=ANDY LAU' target='_blank'>ANDY LAU</A>, <A HREF='http://www.avforums.com/dvdreviews/dvdreviews.php?include=all&searchfield=stars&search_for=RENE LIU' target='_blank'>RENE LIU</A>, <A HREF='http://www.avforums.com/dvdreviews/dvdreviews.php?include=all&searchfield=stars&search_for=YOU GE' target='_blank'>YOU GE</A>, <A HREF='http://www.avforums.com/dvdreviews/dvdreviews.php?include=all&searchfield=stars&search_for=BAOQIANG WANG' target='_blank'>BAOQIANG WANG</A></TD></TR><TR><TD WIDTH='65'><B>Region</B></TD><TD><B>0</B> <FONT>(HONG KONG)</FONT></TD></TR><TR><TD VALIGN='TOP' WIDTH='65'>Supplier</TD><TD><FONT>Mega Star. Released Thursday 27th January 2005</FONT></TD></TR><TR><TD VALIGN='TOP' WIDTH='65'>SRP</TD><TD><FONT>$19.99</FONT></TD></TR><TR><TD VALIGN='TOP' WIDTH='65'>Discs</TD><TD><FONT>2</FONT></TD></TR><TR><TD VALIGN='TOP' WIDTH='65'>Format</TD><TD><FONT>DVD9</FONT></TD></TR><TR><TD VALIGN='TOP' WIDTH='65'>Time</TD><TD><FONT>113 mins.</FONT></TD></TR><TR><TD VALIGN='TOP' WIDTH='65'>Chapters</TD><TD><FONT>20</FONT></TD></TR><TR><TD WIDTH='65' VALIGN='TOP'>Picture</TD><TD>Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1&nbsp;</TD></TR><TR><TD WIDTH='65' VALIGN='TOP'>Sound</TD><TD>Mandarin <IMG SRC='http://www.totaldvd.net/images/dtsES.gif' ALIGN='ABSMIDDLE' border='0' ALT='dts-ES Soundtrack'> 6.1<BR>Mandarin Dolby Digital 6.1 <IMG SRC='http://www.totaldvd.net/images/EX.gif' ALIGN='ABSMIDDLE' border='0' ALT='Dolby Digital EX Soundtrack'> EX<BR>Cantonese <IMG SRC='http://www.totaldvd.net/images/dtsES.gif' ALIGN='ABSMIDDLE' border='0' ALT='dts-ES Soundtrack'> 6.1<BR>Cantonese Dolby Digital 6.1 <IMG SRC='http://www.totaldvd.net/images/EX.gif' ALIGN='ABSMIDDLE' border='0' ALT='Dolby Digital EX Soundtrack'> EX</TD></TR><TR><TD WIDTH='65' VALIGN='TOP'>Subtitles</TD><TD>Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, English</TD></TR><TR><TD WIDTH='65' VALIGN='TOP'>Case</TD><TD>Amaray</TD></TR><TR><TD WIDTH='65' VALIGN='TOP'>Extras</TD><TD>Deleted Scenes<BR>’Making of’ Featurette<BR>’The Story’<BR>Photo Gallery<BR>Theatrical Trailer<BR>Trailers & Previews for ‘Infernal Affairs’ and ‘Initial D’</TD></TR></TABLE><P STYLE='text-align: center'>If you would like to comment on this review, please reply below.</P>


possibly the only film that competed against Kung Fu Hustle last year in the Christmas season.

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