Woo Ming Jin belongs to a generation of young Chinese-Malaysian filmmakers who acquired international fame with simple yet sensitive and beautifully made films. Woo's films are still beautiful, but the narrative style in his latest film is clearly more ambitious. The fairly complex story with various characters is set in different times and moves back and forth between present and past, about 30 years ago.
One of the protagonists is Mr. Tan, the head of a small fishing village, the kind of village so familiar from Woo. Tan had for years a secret relationship with Mr Lai. In this way, the film tackles a homosexual theme, which is striking and risky in Malaysia. One day, Mr Lai has disappeared, together with the wife of Mr Tan. A quest starts in present and past.
The Second Life of Thieves is pure fiction, but the filmmaker took his inspiration from the hidden life of a relative. It explains the personal tone of the film.