Tom Shales, On Television, Jan. 2, 1997
Directed by John Woo
Written by Glenn Davis and William Laurin
Mac Ramsey and Li Ann Tsei were adopted as children by the head of the Tang family, the Godfather of the Hong Kong mafia. They were trained as art thieves, and Li Ann was supposed to marry her foster brother Michael, the biological son and heir of the Tang family. However, Mac and Li Ann fell in love, and decided to try and flee Hong Kong. But it went badly wrong. Li Ann barely escaped; Mac was not so lucky. She was sure he was dead. Actually, Mac was caught by the police rather than the Tangs (fortunately for him), and languished a year in jail - until The Director of a clandestine international crime-fighting organization offered him his freedom if he agreed to work for them. Mac accepted, and was overjoyed to discover that he would be working with his former partner and lover, Li Ann, who had also been recruited. But there were complications; by then Li Ann had a new partner and lover - her fiance, Victor Mansfield. Vic was something of a straight arrow; unlike Mac and Li Ann, he was not a former criminal but an ex-cop who grew frustrated with the corruption and red tape of conventional law enforcement. Conflict flared between Mac and Vic immediately, but The Director announced that they, along with Li Ann, were going to work together from now on so they better get used to it. Their first job was to stop the Hong Kong mafia from infiltrating Vancouver - pitting them against Mac's and Li Ann's adopted family, the Tangs.
This movie has been released on commercial videotape in Europe and Australia under the title VIOLENT TRADITION (so it won't be confused with the earlier version of Once A Thief, done by John Woo in Hong Kong). In the U.S., the commercial videotape of the pilot is called John Woo's ONCE A THIEF; it's a "director's cut," slightly different from the aired version.
The movie sells for $13-15. If your local rental place doesn't have it, here are some places you can buy it online:
The Reel.com Movie Store claims to be the largest movie store on the planet. If they can't find it for you, no one can. Also has a section for people who want to buy and sell used movies.
BigStar.com has good prices on several of Nick's movies.
The Video Shop is a Mail-Order Service for Video Tapes (VHS/PAL). In English and many other Languages. Dispatching Videos anywhere in the world, typically within two to four days. (Note: this company sells PAL videotapes. If you live in the U.S., Canada, Taiwan, Japan, or Korea, you need NTSC tapes and will not be able to play these.)