once_a_tief-locandinaThe story is of three orphans (Chow Yun-Fat, Leslie Cheung, Cherie Chung) and their two father figures (Kenneth Tsang and Chu Kong). They are taken in by both a wealthy crime boss (Tsang) which leads to their close friendship, and a kind police officer (Chu).

Nevertheless, the trio grows up learning high-tech methods of theft and specialize in stealing treasured paintings. After a heist in France goes awry, Chow’s character is thought to be dead and Leslie takes Chow’s place as Cherie’s lover.

However, Chow returns in a wheelchair and the group begins planning their next heist for themselves, fall out of favor with Tsang, and various complications and gun battles ensue.