Korean-Chinese director Zhang Lu (Korean name: Jang Ryul) shot this debut feature in Beijing in the spring of 2003 - at the height of a SARS-epidemic panic, which very likely influenced the film's dark humour. A middle-aged pickpocket forced to retire by a nervous disease which causes his hands to shake spends all his time in his bare apartment, occasionally eavesdropping on a neighbour and watching TV programmes about Tang Dynasty poetry. His former apprentice, a young woman, daily tries to coax him back into action and suggests taking part in a major robbery. He silently coldshoulders her, but then a murder next door brings a stolen gun into the picture. Celebrated Tang poems are brought up in captions as chapter headings, offering ironic counterpoints to the squalid setting and action, but Zhang also sets out to replicate the vigour and allusiveness of classical poetry in his formal control and minimalist emphasis on details. A remarkable one-off.