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Pickpocket (Xiao Wu) (1997)

  Directed by: Zhang Ke Jia
Written by: Zhang Ke Jia
Starring: Hao Hongjian, Hong Wei Wang
Links: Pickpocket on the IMDb
Genre: Drama

This movie gets: 2.50 (2 ratings) Ranking: Ranked equal 184th of 187 movies (2 ratings minimum; see full chart)

"Lacked the conviction of a determined pickpocket" - a review by pearly

Pickpocket is a rambling film which could only accurately be described as a story if you were using the word very loosely. Written and directed by Zhang Ke Jia, and acted out by a non-professional cast, the film is quite obviously made within a certain set of constraints, such as a low budget, and a perhaps difficult political climate.

Xiao Wu (Hong Wei Wang) has gone through life on the outskirts. Many years back, he belonged to a gang of sorts, and they all practiced the fine art of pickpocketing to make their living. Nowadays, though, his friends have grown up a little, and are starting on serious things like getting married. Meanwhile, Xiao Wu is still pickpocketing, and he is beginning to be shunned by the people he once called friends. Will the system catch up with him?

Unfortunately, the way that I've described the plot of the film in the last paragraph is making it out to be about a squillion times more action-packed than it really is. In actuality, there are long scenes of things like Xiao Wu walking down the street, or talking nonsense with a lady of the night (Hao Hongjian) that he starts going out with, and hopes to develop something with. And then there's the scene where he goes and has a bath and there's full frontal nudity for no reason whatsoever. I felt like I was watching Young Adam (2003) all over again.

The whole thing is slow moving in the worst way - it makes you get fidgety or start to fall asleep (having nodding off eyes is never a good thing when the film is subtitled). I'm afraid that this was the case with me.

As the film went on, I started to wonder what the point of the whole thing was. It turned out that there was one, but it wasn't worth waiting around for.

The quality of the print that was used at the screening I attended was mediocre at best, and this only added to my list of upsets to do with Pickpocket. I really tried to get something out of this film, but I couldn't manage it. This was Zhang Ke Jia's first film, and I can see how this director may, with a few more things in his favour, produce quality results. But for me, watching Pickpocket was akin to watching the first effort of a vaguely talented high school student, and not much better.

pearly gives this movie 3 out of 10.
Review created on Wed 10 Aug 2005

"2 Hours of Viewer's Life STOLEN!" - a review by thestudent

What a terrible movie.

There are times during which I suspect that films are selected to be shown at the Melbourne International Film Festival for no reason other than for the climate and style in which they were made, and not whether they could be even remotely interesting or entertaining. The following two phrases from the MIFF guide would seem to sum up precisly what is wrong with this 107 minute trainwreck:

"Made well outside the state system..."
"...a superb non-professional cast..."

Not only was Pickpocket not any good, it was terrible. This was a full frontal assault upon an unprovoked audience. From the 1930's film quality to the consistantly horrendous background noise of car horns, mobile phones, or a singing cigarette lighter of all things, the film blew chunks in no uncertain terms.

Painfully slow and seemingly deliberately abrasive, Pickpocket tells of a down and out Xiao Wu (Hong Wei Wang), his trade as a pickpocket, his adventures in big city China... and not much else.

Avoid this film at all costs, the fate of common sense is at stake.

thestudent gives this movie 2 out of 10.
Review created on Wed 10 Aug 2005

Movie review statistics

Number of reviews: 2
Average rating: 2.50
Lowest rating: 2 (by thestudent)
Highest rating: 3 (by pearly)
Rating Percentage

Reader comments

  1. If you are interested in the subject of this movie, but want to see a better version, then I recommend the movie "World Without Thieves"


    A comment from nofreelist's own timchuma on Wed 10 Aug 2005 16:11 #

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