|Once a Thief|
|Also known as||John Woo's Once a Thief|
|Written by||Steven Barwin|
|Directed by||Steve DiMarco|
Peter D. Marshall
|Country of origin||Canada|
|No. of seasons||1|
|No. of episodes||22|
|Production locations||Toronto, Ontario, Canada|
|Running time||44 minutes|
|Production company||Alliance Communications Corporation|
|Distributor||October Moon Productions|
|Original network||CTV Television Network|
|Original release||September 15, 1997 -|
May 2, 1998
|Preceded by||Once a Thief (1996)|
|Followed by||Once a Thief: Brother Against Bother|
Once a Thief (also billed as John Woo's Once a Thief) is a Canadian Action/Comedy television series inspired by the Hong Kong 1991 film of the same name. The series is a continuation from the 1996 television film of the same name and it also includes two direct-to-video sequels: Once a Thief: Brother Against Brother and Once a Thief: Family Business.
Li Ann Tsei, an orphan who grew up amongst the Chinese Tang family - a ruthless criminal operation - falls in love with Mac Ramsey, a thief who works for the family. However, when she is betrothed to Tang heir Michael, the two fake their deaths in an attempt to flee the country. Li Ann escapes, but Mac is arrested and left to rot in a Chinese prison.
Two years later, he is released and taken to Canada where a mysterious woman known as the Director employs him to work for her crime-fighting institution. He soon learns that he will be working as part of a team with Li Ann, and the man she was engaged to, Victor Mansfield, a disgraced police officer. The trio soon are forced to work together under the manipulative Director.
After the success of the 1996 film Once a Thief, which was used as a pilot for the series, Glenn Davis and William Laurin created the series, which premiered in September 1997, with John Woo as executive producer. The show started out with strong ratings, which quickly fell, and the show was put on hiatus in November after 9 episodes. When it returned, in January 1998, ratings had significantly decreased. All 22 episodes of the show aired during the season, but it was not renewed, a fact which the producers were informed of before filming the last episodes of the series.
The first episode, "The Big Bang Theory", was number 7 in the Canadian Nielsen ratings, and the second episode, "Rave On", was number 14. By the end of its run, the show was at the bottom of the list. In episode 20, there is a reference to the audience's unfavorable reaction to the show: when the Director is told that the trio is coming along well, she replies "that depends on who you talk to."
Several episodes are parodies of other TV shows and film genres: