Cheung played by Andy Lau (House of Flying Daggers, Infernal Affairs, Fulltime Killer), is a man whose cancer is in the advanced stages, with a maximum of 4 weeks to live. Cheung however has a few scores left to settle and does not intend to sit around and pass into death quietly. He sets about executing an elaborate plan to see his scores settled. This starts a 78 hour game of cat and mouse between him and hard boiled cop Inspector Ho played by Ching Wan Lau (Colour of the Truth, Full Alert, Return to a Better Tomorrow).
Running Out Of Time was written by French writing team Julien Carbon and Lauraunt Courtiaud and then further adapted into the Chinese screenplay by Nai-Hoi Yau whose writing credits include PTU and The Bare-Footed Kid. Although French the writers are long time fans of Hong Kong cinema and have created a great plot with plenty of twists and turns and that all essential male bonding that proliferates much of Hong Kong's cinema. Directed by Johnny To whose film credits include PTU, The Mission, Heroic Trio 2: Executioners.
Hong Kong cinema and particularly the "cops and robbers" sub genre is enjoying a renascence, while this new wave of movies do not match the Heroic bloodshed genre of the 80’s for ballistic violence, they do offer a great deal of style and arguably better plots. In the twisty plot department Running out of time does not disappoint, if you enjoyed, Colour of the truth, Infernal affairs, Cop on a mission etc. then this is another film your going to love.
Andy lau is excellent as ever proving again why he is one of Hong Kong cinemas hot properties and a firm fan favourite. In fact Andy Lau won the “best Actor” accolade at the 2000 Hong Kong film awards for his performance. .Lau Ching Wan as inspector Po holds his own well on screen with Lau giving a great deadpan performance to match Lau’s enigmatic Cheung.
After Cheung robs an insurance company, he takes a hostage on the roof and Inspector Ho a master police negotiator is called in. Ho asks Cheung what he wants offering idea's such as a helicopter, a fast car and even a chance to call a girlfriend or wife. Cheung shoots the hostage and say's “I don’t want any of those things; I just want to play a game with you for 78 hours”. Confused and intrigued by Cheung’s statement Ho finds himself becoming obsessed with taking him down before the time runs out. As the plot develops and the two try and outwit each other they develop a strong unspoken bond and a growing respect.
Director Johnny To gives the film a very stylised feel that is almost noir in its tone, with haunting sad music throughout that serves to reminds you that Cheung is a tragic character. To further the tragic feel there is a very effective sub plot in which Cheung's character forms an almost romantic relationship with a beautiful girl he meets on a bus while avoiding the police who are hunting him. They only meet twice onscreen, but the character interplay is done beautifully, in their second meeting they have dinner in a restaurant with Chan telling her “If only I had more time”, she does not understand until a coffing fit makes him spit blood into his drink and his ill health becomes apparent to her.
The great thing about Running out of time is that it manages to skilfully combine the stylish look seen recently in Johnny To’s PTU with some great action sequences including gun battles and car chases that remind you, should you have forgotten just why you love Hong Kong cinema so much.
Running out of time is a great blend of modern noir-esque visuals, haunting background melodies, twisty plot, great acting and explosive action. A great addition to the genre and other piece of must own Hong Kong cinema.
Buy It: amazon.co.uk