From a team that between them combined for Taiwanese new wave genre and social realism movies such as On The Society File Of Shanghai, The Sexy Lady Driver, Exposed To Danger and Devil Returns comes Pink Thief. A product not even pretending it wants to lead a wave but a product knowing what it takes to be noticed. It starts in the casting.
Lan Hsiao-Tieh's (Lu Hsiao-Fen) rough trip from Mainland China to Hong Kong along with her friends means they're first in the clutches of gangsters but they manage to break free in order to settle down in Hong Kong as con artists and thieves. Stealing Chief Detective Lu's (Lui Ming) wallet sets into motion a relationship where the group and primarily the tough Lan is forced to go undercover in order to bring gangster Hao (Tien Feng) to justice...
Also picked up by Joseph Lai's IFD and released as a cut and paste ninja movie (Official Exterminator 4 - Goddess Mission), Pink Thief seems to take a page out of the book of Taiwanese social realism but it's merely on the surface. Because despite grit and some personal drama (Richard Cui's character can't adjust to the life of a thief as he's a literary man at heart), it becomes clear someone in the production is not aiming high creatively or personally except for at the box office. Lu Hsiao-Fen's breakthrough in On The Society File Of Shanghai meant a desire and need for exposure so lighter, quicker, emptier products by nature got created. Pink Thief is one such but doesn't suffer despite. But it takes somewhat of a devotee of the era and the actress to appreciate it on a slightly higher level.
Director Yueh Chieh-Feng gives us no particular clue or drive for the story but we're amused along the way that Lu Hsiao-Fen's character is often given low cut costumes and therefore the sex symbol status of hers is appreciated by us and highly known by the filmmakers. Largely not a dangerous time on the gritty streets amongst the poor either, it becomes even clearer when the undercover operation gets set into motion that even the English title should be a dead giveaway that you shouldn't expect a punishing time.
Especially not when at one time Hao's former mistress busts in on Lan Hsiao-Tieh and makes her scantily glad henchwomen fight her but ultimately it's old mistress in a leopard skin outfit versus the new in an indoor whirl pool. There's nothing wrong with luring in audiences via a popular element because you know what, breakthrough and subsequent fandom creates desire. Was true for audiences back then, true for the sparse audiences following Taiwanese cinema today. Shamelessly guilty as charged.
reviewed by Kenneth Brorsson