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Running Out Of Time II(2001)
Johnny To and Law Wing-Cheung's sequel to To's popular action film Running out of Time plunges the hostage negotiator hero of that film, Sang (Lau Ching-Wan), into a whole new adventure. In Running out of Time 2 Sang has been promoted to a dull desk job, but when Ken (Ekin Cheng), a suave art thief with talent for magic tricks and an array of heist plots up his sleeve, draws Sang into a hostage situation, the chase is on all over again. The bulk of the film is a high-stakes cat-and-mouse game, with Ken keeping one step ahead of Sang; his bumbling sidekick, Assistant Commissioner Wong Kai Fa (Hui Shiu-hung); and Teresa (Kelly Lin), a beautiful insurance executive with a lot to lose if Ken's most dastardly plan succeeds.
For more about Running Out Of Time II and the Running Out Of Time II Blu-ray release, see Running Out Of Time II Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on November 22, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.0 out of 5.
Directors: Johnnie To, Wing-cheong Law
Starring: Ching Wan Lau, Ekin Cheng, Kelly Lin, Suet Lam
» See full cast & crew
Running Out Of Time II Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, November 22, 2012
Winner of Golden Horse Awards for Best Choreography and Best Editing, Law Wing-cheong and Johnnie To's "Am zin 2" a.k.a "Running Out of Time 2" (2001) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Hong Kong-based distributors Kam & Ronson Enterprises. The only extra on the disc is an original theatrical trailer for the film. In Cantonese, with optional English and Traditional Mandarin subtitles for the main feature. Region-A "locked".
In the sequel to Running out of Time, police negotiator Ho Sheung-sang (Lau Ching-Wan, Mad Detective, Overheard) is once again challenged by a handsome thief (Ekin Cheng, The Storm Warriors) who likes to play games. This time around, however, the thief, whose name is never mentioned throughout the film, also happens to be a skillful magician with a seemingly endless arsenal of tricks.
The two men meet after Ho Sheung-sang uncovers that the thief plans to blackmail the beautiful and ambitious CEO of a large corporation. To protect an important deal which could collapse if news reaches the market that the corporation is being manipulated, Teresa (Kelly Lin, Fulltime Killer, Reign Of Assassins) agrees to pay the thief - but Ho Sheung-sang and his men intercept their phone calls and go after him.
What ensues is a classic cat-and-mouse game in which Ho Sheung-sang and the thief constantly try to outsmart each other. Rather reluctantly, Teresa also joins the game and eventually warms up to Ho Sheung-sang. The two try to track down the thief after they discover that he has a pet eagle that follows him around Hong Kong, but somehow he always manages to evade them.
Meanwhile, one of Ho Sheung-sang's colleagues (Suet Lam, Exiled, Accident) is warned by his creditors that it is time for him to pay off his debt. When he fails to do so, the creditors use metal bars to convince him that they very much want their money back. While blaming his luck for his pain and suffering, the cop meets the thief and he tries to teach him an important lesson.
Unlike Running out of Time, Running out of Time 2 is a rather predictable affair which basically focuses on the chase sequences and leaves Ho Sheung-sang struggling to find a logical explanation why the thief is always more than a few steps ahead of him. The majority of these sequences are well choreographed and shot, but they lack the intensity that made the first film special.
Another weakness the film has is the underdeveloped relationships between Ho Sheung-sang and Teresa and the miserable cop and the thief. The latter, in particular, adds little of substance to the film. The former shows some potential after Teresa warms up to Ho Sheung-sang but the romantic overtones there are quickly lost when they begin looking for the thief's pet eagle. The focus of attention is then shifted to a series of MTV-esque clips that feel like they were shot to impress foreigners debating whether to visit Hong Kong.
Once again there is plenty of light humor. There is hardly any groundbreaking material here, but overall the mix of action and humor is unlikely to disappoint viewers who liked the tone of the first film.
The acting is decent. Lau Ching-Wan clearly stands out from the rest of the cast, but there are scenes where it feels like he isn't used to his full potential. The beautiful Kelly Lin is asked to play an incredibly transparent character and she never manages to impress. Ekin Cheng is likeable but his thief is definitely not as exciting as Andy Lau's.
Produced by Johnnie To's Milkyway Image, Running Out of Time 2 was lensed by cinematographer Cheng Siu-keung (Johnnie To's Running on Karma, Sparrow, Life Without Principle).
Note: Blu-ray.com has also reviewed the Hong Kong Blu-ray release of Running out of Time. Click here to read out review.
Running Out Of Time II Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, Law Wing-cheong and Johnnie To's Running out of Time 2 arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Hong-Kong based distributors Kam & Ronson Enterprises.
The high-definition transfer has been struck from a dated source but it is actually quite good. Most close-ups boast decent depth (see scrteencapture #4), while clarity is quite pleasing during the outdoor sequences. There are no traces of problematic sharpening corrections. There are, however, traces of light filtering corrections which were most likely introduced when the HD master was prepared. Color reproduction is pleasing, but saturation could have been better. Clearly, compression also could have been more convincing - there are a couple of sequences where light banding sneaks in. Lastly, there are no serious stability issues to report in this review. However, I did notice random tiny flecks popping in here and there. All in all, the presentation is on par with many of the catalog releases of late '90s films coming out of Hong Kong. Decent but far from exciting is probably the best way to describe it. (Note: This is a Region-A "locked" Blu-ray disc. Therefore, you must have a native Region-A or Region-Free PS3 or SA in order to access its content).
Running Out Of Time II Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There are two standard audio tracks on this Blu-ray disc: Cantonese Dolby TrueHD 7.1 and Mandarin Dolby Digital 5.1 EX. For the record, Kam & Ronson Enterprises have provided optional English and Traditional Mandarin subtitles for the main feature.
The lossless track opens up the film quite well, but balance could have been more convincing. During a few of the chase sequences dynamic intensity rises quite quickly. However, depth and fluidity are good throughout the entire film. The dialog is clean, stable, and easy to follow. Excluding a few minor errors, the English translation is good.
Running Out Of Time II Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Running Out Of Time II Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
I really enjoyed Johnnie To's Running Out of Time, a fast paced, well directed and most importantly very original action thriller. This sequel, however, is rather disappointing. It is flashier but its script clearly lacks the depth that made the first film so entertaining. It is worth seeing, but my advice to you is to consider picking it up only if you find this box set on sale. Otherwise, RENT IT.
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