Features Live Action Movies

The Moon Thieves
(Dou Yeut Ze,

Director – Yuen Kim-wei – 2024 – Hong Kong – Cert. 15 – 107m


A gang including a counterfeit watchmaker and an amateur safe cracker attempt to steal a watch worn by an astronaut on the 1969 moon landing – out in UK cinemas on Friday, February 23rd

This heist movie is built around three members of hugely popular Cantopop boy band Mirror: Anson Lo, Edan Lui and Keung To. Vincent Ma (Lui) is a watchmaker who builds counterfeit (i.e. non-brand name) watches out of genuine parts. He takes great pride in his work and his watches are very reliable as a result. Yoh (Lo) desperately needs money to pay for the operation that will save the ailing eyesight of his mom Ms. Hong (Luna Shaw), so he signs up to work with the ruthless young crime boss heir known simply as Uncle (Keung) despite the fact that Yoh’s elder brother was previously killed by gangsters, so he ought to know better.

Uncle has enlisted Ma to look at three watches in Tokyo that might be worth stealing – he is to take them apart, examine their insides and confirm as to whether or not they are genuine. Yoh has safecracking skills, so is clearly the man to open the vintage safe, and is given a similar model on which to practice. They are under the command of Chief (Louis Cheung) and his sidekick Mario (Michael Ning) who are renting an underground retail unit near the one housing the safe containing the three watches, accessible via the sewer system if they make a hole in the wall.

The amount of explosive needed to do the job would trigger the alarm, so they must use a series of small explosives and, as luck would have it, an upcoming fireworks display will provide the perfect sonic cover for the multiple detonations. Casing the joint, Ma learns they have not only the three watches targeted by the robbers, but also the fabled Moon Watch that disappeared from NASA years ago – the first watch to be worn on the moon – by Buzz Aldrin during the 1969 moon landings, Neil Armstrong having left his watch back in the ship. The Moon Watch has long been something of an obsession with Ma.

By the time the job is completed, all four watches have disappeared with the gang. This is unfortunate, since a Japanese crime boss had planned to buy it and is just as obsessed with the thing as Ma. So our Hong Kong gang suddenly find Japanese gangers coming after them…

Considering Hong Kong’s pedigree in terms of gangster movies and action epics over the years, this film is an embarrassment. The plot is ploddingly realised on the screen, lacking the restless energy that made even low budget efforts like Chungking Express (Wong Kar-wai, 1994) and Made in Hong Kong (Fruit Chan, 1997) into instant classics. There’s no real stunt work to save it, either. That’s a shame, because the whole counterfeit watchmaker setup is highly original; would that the same could be said for the rest of the film.

The Moon Thieves is out in cinemas in the UK on Friday, February 23rd.


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