Running Out Of Time 2
Director: Johnnie To, Law Wing-Cheong
Cast: Ekin Cheng, Lau Ching-Wan, Kelly Lin, Hui Shiu-Hung , Ruby Wong
Johnnie To and Ka-fai Wai have reestablished the definition of Hong Kong detective thriller genre with Running Out of Time in 1999. This time, they are coming back with the highly anticipated sequel to the series. Is it able to bring us any surprise again?
The story pretty much follows the convention of Running Out Of Time, despite a terrible flaw which I will cover in the latter portion of this review. Detective Sang (Lau Ching-wan) is challenged by a mysterious figure called Ken (Ekin Cheng). At first, Sang does not know what Ken wants. When the senior executive of a multi-national insurance company Teresa (Kelly Lin) receives a call from Ken ordering her to prepare a 10 million dollars ransom, Sang finally gets to know Ken's target. The case soon turns into a competition for wisdom and strength between Sang and Ken...
Johnnie To's fans should be delighted. To retains all the successful elements of Running Out Of Time and even intensifies certain aspects like the affluent use of background music. The visual design of the film is nicely crafted and devised, that it is hard to discover any flaws ostensibly.
The two protagonists are the focus of this film. Both Lau Ching-wan and Ekin Cheng are doing a good and persuasive job in this regard. However, in terms of the character development, I think Sang is way more attractive and solid than Ken. No doubt Ken looks glamorous in the film, he is brilliant and sympathetic. He robs for the sake of the refugees in Africa. He is never tired and never runs out of ideas. In short, he is almost perfect. But that is where the problem comes, he is too good to be true. A character who is omnipotent and invincible is in fact a big taboo for script writing. A filmmaker should avoid making such character. If you refer back to Running Out Of Time, you will notice that what makes Andy Lau's character appealing and the story intense are the dilemma and misfortune he is facing. Although Lau is also a genius in that film, he is not omnipotent. He is suffering from cancer. It is this conflict that creates dramatic tension and dynamism. Returning to this film, Ekin Cheng's Ken is just too perfect. Sang is actually no match against him at all. We keep seeing Sang being humiliated by Ken. It is not really a competition for wisdom and strength, the whole thing is just Ken's showtime indeed. Compared to Ken, Sang's character is much more authentic and concrete. He has bad tempers, he will go eat noodles when he is tired of chasing Ken... His genuine behaviors are crucial to the dynamic of the character, and it is what makes Sang captivating. This character can actually touch our heart as opposed to the distant god-like Ken.
The illogical concepts of the story are another big drawback. Most of the scenes in this film are cool, but they simply don't make sense. Imagine how can one disappear in the taxi without any possible explanation? How can one tails a flying eagle in the built-up areas of a city? Perhaps some people may find it exciting, but for me, the illogical plot is very distracting, it just hinders me from enjoying it seriously.
Running Out Of Time 2 merely retains the superficial narrative structure of the prequel, while it completely fails to capture its spirit. I did not intend to criticize this film harshly, but as a Johnnie To's fan, I guess I just couldn't tolerate the deterioration of his works.
DVD (HK version) - The DVD is anamorphic widescreen and the DTS soundtrack is pretty nice. Subtitles are legible. Overall speaking, it is a pretty well done DVD. For Johnnie To's fan, despite all its flaws, it is still a must have.
Cool guy(s) - Lau Chin-Wan, Ekin Cheng
Reviewed by: Kantorates