Review of Running Out Of Time 2
Following on from one of the most popular Hong Kong films ever (which I haven`t seen), comes Johnnie To`s sequel Running Out Of Time 2. Ching Wan-Lau returns as Inspector Ho Sheung-San, a clever police negotiator who must pitch his wits against another master criminal.
The man in question this time is played by Ekin Cheung and is a master of illusion and a magician to boot. Cheung (I don`t think his name is actually revealed at all in the film) has stolen three artefacts from a company belonging to Teresa (Kelly Lin). The company is close to a merger and she cannot afford the distraction of being blackmailed with all the money at stake with the merger. Teresa therefore authorises a ransom demand of 20 million dollars to retrieve the artefacts. Unknown to her and the thief though, is that the police are already looking into the company and have bugged the offices and now know what is going on.
Meanwhile Ho is called to a roof-top drama. A man is sat on a roof and engages luckless police negotiator Ken (Suet Lam) in a coin-flipping game of Heads Or Tails. Ken always picks heads and is losing quite badly. What starts as Ken attempting to talk down the mystery man ends up with Ho trying to talk down Ken, as he get more and more depressed at his bad luck.
After a tense stand-off, the mystery man inexplicably escapes and Ho spends the rest of the film chasing and trying to outwit Cheung, as the latter tries to get his ransom money.
Breathtaking cinematography, that was only nominated for a Golden Horse. As with similar genre films, like Silver Hawk, the scenery is spectacular and Hong Kong has rarely looked finer. There is a nice mix of old-style architecture and more mudane locations with a hi-tech feel for some of the main sets and locations. Good work here from Siu-keung Cheng.
Soundtracks available in Cantonese, English and Mandarin; all in 5.1 Surround with some nice use of the rear channels (although with no fights as such, it`s hardly a spectacular workout). I listened to the Cantonese soundtrack with English subtitles, which was probably the best one, although for some strange reason we had burst of English dialogue in with the Cantonese. Very strange.
The English soundtrack is clearly dubbed and you lose not only some of the feel of the acting, but actually also a lot of dialogue as it clearly doesn`t match the subtitles.
Raymond Wong`s string-laden soundtrack is a joy and very uplifting, and also breaks out in bagpipes at certain points; very effective the latter are as well, but a little odd as well.
Making Of - featurette that lasts roughly 5 minutes and tells you nothing
Trailers - assorted trailers, none of which last much longer than a minute
This is a bit of a strange film. It looks gorgeous but is completely lacking in substance. There are some nice set pieces and the cinematography is superb. The problem is that the script doesn`t really engage as it`s clearly full of holes and doesn`t pull the viewer in.
Wan-Lau and Cheung make a nice partnership, albeit on opposing sides, but they have little to do except pretend to be clever. A lot of the time Cheung looks way too smug, but you can`t help but feel empathy for him and for Ho. An odd film where you`re actually rooting for both hero and villain. On top of this, you have the mysterious American Bald Eagle that flies around mysteriously, sometimes leading Ho to Cheung and sometimes just flying around mysteriously. Yep, it`s a bit of a mystery why the bird is here at all.
Shiu Hung Hui has the comedic stooge role as the thick and always eating Assistant Commissioner Wong Kai Fa. He is the butt of all jokes, which is a little odd as he is the third highest ranking police officer in the Metropolitan police force in Hong Kong according to his given rank. Still he made me laugh a lot through the stupidity of his actions and the deadpan look as something blows up in his face again, sometimes quite literally.
Kelly Lin is supposed to be the dynamic head of a company on the brink of a 5 billion dollar merger. The problem is she looks way to young to be in such a position. There`s nothing wrong with her acting, but she looks like she should still be in her bedroom listening to Westlife rather than in charge of a multi-billion dollar enterprise. She`s clearly there to pull in a certain demographic, and there`s nothing wrong with that, but her character does little except shout at Ho and any one of her employees. There`s not even any attempt at a romantic side-story to give here something-else to do. Wasted opportunity really.
So for all that, is it any good? Well, if you want to be entertained by a tightly scripted story that is clear and has a neat resolution, then no. On the other hand, it`s well filmed, contains some good (and not so good) performances, and entertains for the most part. I was thoroughly baffled but still don`t feel that I wasted an hour and a half watching it.
Not bad, but no good either…