A World Without Thieves (simplified Chinese: 天下无贼; traditional Chinese: 天下無賊; pinyin: Tiānxià Wú Zéi) is an award-winning Chinese action / drama film directed by Feng Xiaogang and starring Andy Lau, Rene Liu, Ge You and Li Bingbing. The film is an adaptation of a novelette of the same title by Zhao Benfu that was first published in 1999. The original story is moderately different from the film adaptation. The film was first released in Shanghai, China on 5 December 2004. It clinched the 2005 Golden Horse Award for Best Screenplay Adaptation.
The film was released in Hong Kong with Cantonese dubbing provided by Andy Lau (Wang Bo), Anthony Wong (for the role of Uncle Li), and Chapman To (Sha Gen).
The plot is centered around a naïve village boy who does not believe in the existence of thieves. Returning home on board a train with his work savings of ¥60,000 in cash, he soon becomes the target of many thieves. The film explores the theme of the fundamental human goodness and also addresses humorously the issue of rampant thievery on public transport in Mainland China.
The story is set primarily on a train bound inland from Tibet. Sha Gen (played by Wang Baoqiang), a naïve village boy working as construction worker in Tibet, was returning home to get married. Refusing to believe that thieves exist in the world, Sha Gen insists on carrying his five years of savings worth ¥60,000 with him rather than use remittance. As such, he has attracted the attention of Wang Bo (Andy Lau) and Wang Li (Rene Liu), a pair of lovers who are also highly skilled professional thieves. Wang Bo wants to steal the ¥60,000 as a last hit to end their career but Wang Li, pregnant with their child and moved by Sha Gen's innocence, decides to protect the boy.
The situation is further complicated when a small gang of thieves led by Hu Li, also known as Uncle Li (Ge You), boards the train. Uncle Li instructs his followers, among whom are Xiao Ye (Li Bingbing) and Four-Eyes (Gordon Lam), to refrain from doing a job on the train. Tempted by the huge amount of cash carried by Sha Gen, however, some members disobey and strike, only to be counter-stolen by Wang Bo moments later. This exposes Wang's skills to Uncle Li, who becomes highly interested to recruit the former. As Wang declines, the contest between the Wangs and Uncle Li's gang quickly escalates, with Sha Gen, still completely unaware of the danger surrounding him, and his money as the prize.
While the two sides tussle, however, a plainclothes police detective (Zhang Hanyu) has been silently watching and awaiting his chance. As the police force eventually closes in, Uncle Li attempts to make off with Sha Gen's money but is confronted by Wang Bo, who has finally promised to lend his help to Wang Li to protect Sha Gen's innocence. The two engage in a violent hand-to-hand combat. Although Wang succeeds in retrieving the money and giving it back, he is seriously injured in the fray, and subsequently dies. Uncle Li and his gang are all apprehended as the train pulls into station, but the police officer lets Wang Li go on compassionate grounds. Wang Li returns to Tibet sometime later, abandoning her baby to the locals before praying to the heavens in a show of penance.