25 April 2005 | Pro Jury
Unpleasant in every way
USA's AZN TV purchased the rights to this film and the network is showing it using the English title THE PICKPOCKET.
1997's THE PICKPOCKET takes amateur home-movie style movie making to amazing levels of unpleasantness. The movie depicts a long-winded series of boring wanderings of an uninteresting, confused guy. This lead character, Xiao Wu, does not simply walk about aimlessly. Viewers will unfortunately soon realize that Xiao Wu has an unsurpassed talent to seek out, and remain dormant near the most obnoxious noises to be found in China. Clanging empty tin buckets being beaten with a stick -- he is there. Every old motor in China clunking in agony -- he is there. A crying baby? Yes, you guessed it, he is there! According to THE PICKPOCKET, China is the most irritating unpleasant sounding place on planet Earth.
The only element worse than the sound of THE PICKPOCKET is the photography. The camera shakes, shakes and shakes some more. Finally, the camera stills, but then it falls to the actor's knees and just stays there until someone in the crew realizes the mistake and begins to shake the camera again. Most of the shaky film is framed in distant, long, long, long shots. The few times when the camera gets somewhat close, nothing compelling ever takes place to connect the viewer with what is happening.
The photography is murky, faded and often blurry. The use of color is -- well, there is no sign of intelligence controlling the use of color. Most every shot is held 20 times too long. Few movies are so painful to sit through. This film is painful to watch, and painful to hear. And then it simply ends.
John Woo fans might enjoy being able to hear part of the soundtrack to DIE XUE SHUANG XIONG (THE KILLER) as the lead character is hanging outside of a video store for many minutes. Anyway, be warned -- THE PICKPOCKET will steal away your good time.