Man Jeuk (The Sparrow) (Cultured Bird) (2008) - Rotten Tomatoes

Man Jeuk (The Sparrow) (Cultured Bird) (2008)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

Simon Yam and Kelly Lin star in director Johnnie To's tale of three professional pickpockets, one mysterious beauty, and the elusive key that brings them all together. It's title taken from a street slang term describing the unique dexterity needed to lift wallets and flutter away undetected, Sparrow opens as Kei and his three partners in crime gingerly fleece unsuspecting strangers on the overcrowded streets of Hong Kong. The money Kei makes from this low-level criminal endeavor is plenty enough to sustain his modest lifestyle, and being free from the restraints of a nine to five job he can spend his days aimlessly peddling through the streets on his bicycle and snapping photos on his Rolleiflex. One day, with his lens trained on the street as usual, Kei notices a gorgeous woman wander into frame. Instantly smitten, the felonious shutterbug strikes up a conversation and learns her name is Chun Lei, and that she seems to have a particularly mysterious past. Later, it becomes apparent that Chun Lei has purposefully targeted the Kei and his partners in hopes that they will help her obtain a very important key. But Chun Lei isn't the only one in search of this elusive key, because shortly thereafter a timid tycoon named Mr. Yen shows up with a suspiciously similar request. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi


Critic Reviews for Man Jeuk (The Sparrow) (Cultured Bird)

All Critics (15) | Top Critics (3)

An action film without guns or even that much violence, it unfurls like an elegant ballet.

Full Review… | December 29, 2008
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic

Has a feather-light plot that flies in the face of credibility, but contains all the right components for an entertaining hit, like gracefully choreographed action sequences by martial arts veteran Yuen Biao, and a well-assembled cast.

October 18, 2008
Hollywood Reporter
Top Critic

Yam's easy charm holds the pic together, and supports are are all solid, with Lam standing out among the sparrows and the Mandarin-speaking Lin fine as the skittish but crafty Chun-lei.

Full Review… | July 22, 2008
Top Critic

A beautifully made, deliberately puzzling thriller...

Full Review… | April 17, 2011

The slow-burn of a cigarette in a lip-glossed mouth, the languid sprawl of Hong Kong, and a jazzy, bluesy soundtrack give this Cantonese drama an arty insouciance.

Full Review… | April 15, 2011
Total Film

Clearly a labour of love.

April 15, 2011
London Evening Standard

Audience Reviews for Man Jeuk (The Sparrow) (Cultured Bird)

Not my favorite Johnny To, mainly because of setting of the characters (pickpockets) and the casting, but it still does show To's matureness as a film auteur as well as some recent works of him. What To achieves lately is really mature mise-en-scene, in other words, the way of creating the original atmosphere in the pictures. Especially in this film, use of music and shots of night, rainy Hong Kong city are superb (it also works as an homage to old Hollywood films), although some parts are set-up too much and look too comical. Moreover, setting pickpockets as main characters and describing them as a certain kind of skilled workers make you feel somewhat out of place and not comfortable (morally) throughout the film (although I don't know why I feel so on pickpockets and do not on gangsters...). Simon Yam shows some new attractions with this role. The heroin, Kelly Lin, is too inconspicuous.

Naoya Kugimiya
Naoya Kugimiya

Quite slow and not the easiest to follow, but the scene at the end with no speaking is very well done and makes the movie worth a look. Also very nicely filmed street shots and I liked the black and white photography.

Nicki Marie
Nicki Marie

Super Reviewer


To never fails to bring a smile to my face, even when the plot is not making a lot of sense. Simon Yam has more charisma, screen persona and acting skills than all hollywood put together. Also, weird to see Ka Tung Lam not playing a villian.

Tsubaki Sanjuro
Tsubaki Sanjuro

Super Reviewer

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