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SIFF 2008, Blog #5

Sparrow
dir. Johnny To
Contemporary World Cinema

This is only my seventh film at SIFF2008 and I feel satisfied. I have seen a charming comic film with a huge pickpocket showdown. It didn't have the flashiness of the pickpocket duels of A World Without Thieves of SIFF 2006 and also sadly lacked Andy Lau, but despite those short comings, I was totally charmed by Johnny To's Sparrow.

This year I scoured the schedule for asian cinema and came up fairly empty handed. While there was no lack of films that sounded intriguing, most of them are western. But there are three Johnny To films this year; Sparrow, Triangle, and Mad Detective. A bit a research on availability made me grab a couple of tickets for Sparrow, since the other two can be found on DVD and it also, from the introduction, it might be the best of the three. Score.

I just went to IMDB to see what other of Johnny To's films I've seen. Actually, Exiled appears to be it. I'm puzzled by this as I was certain that I've seen others, like I thought he made Heroic Trio, but I could be mistaken. My memory isn't as good as it once was. But it is nice to discover that he has made around 50 films, so if I want to see more there's plenty to choose from if I feel the need for a whole Johnny To weekend.

So okay, Sparrow... aka Cultured Bird, is about a small brotherhood of pickpockets who become involved with a bewitching lady who seems to want their help, but their attempts to give aid are met with thefts, beatings, broken bones, and so on. It is difficult to describe the light and quirky quality of this movie, but these guys are just charming. In one scene, the four of them are riding to "work" together on one bicycle when the bicycle breaks throwing them into the street. It isn't played as slap stick, but for a quieter laugh with affection for these characters. I couldn't help but care about these guys and just kept hoping that they would just leave Miss Lei (Kelly Lin) alone, but that would have been much less fun to watch.

Basically, this is a crap review, but I really enjoyed this light little film. It doesn't have the slick cool of some of his other movies, like Exiled, but it was no less entertaining. Plus, Sparrow has a sweetness to it that I was completely charmed by. Thumbs are way up!!!

Movie Trailer: Sparrow

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