If you liked Running Out of Time as much as I did then you’d have been hanging out to see this sequel by Johnnie To.
First off, the good news — Lau Ching Wan returns as the likeable, determined smarty-pants cop Inspector Ho Seung Sang. Other regulars from the first film such as Lam Suet, Ruby Wong and Hui Sui-Hong also returns (Lam Suet in a break from continuity tradition returns as a different character just to mess with our minds!)
The not so good news is that Andy Lau doesn’t, his role of Inspector Ho’s adversary going to Ekin Cheng. Strangely though, that is not its biggest problem.
The major fault in this film is the lack of urgency. In the first one, Andy Lau’s Peter Cheung was racing against a terminal illness and determined to have one last criminal fling with his chosen opponent, Inspector Ho.
Ken, Ho’s new nemesis (Ekin) has no such motive, he’s a master art thief who steals for Robin Hood-like altruism. The only race here is to help corporate insurance high-flier Teresa (Kelly Lin) seal a deal worth a gadzillion dollars. Ho hum… sorry, just can’t warm to that.
Nevertheless, the action steamrolls ahead in familiar Johnnie To style. Any plot holes, absurd story angles and general lack of character development are skillfully bulldozed away by more mind- and gravity-defying stunts, well-staged capers and clever head-spinning feats.
Surprisingly it does work for the length of the film, maintaining great momentum and keeping your interest for most parts due to To’s polished directorial skills.
There are many ‘cool’ and memorable scenes, one in particular whereby Ho’s infamous ‘never-give-up’ determination is sorely tested by Ken… on bicycles. In essence, the excitement factor has moved up a few notches and general plot and character development took a nose-dive. Not too worry though, it doesn’t hit rock bottom.
If you are a fan of the first installment, chances are you’ll leave the cinema, feeling not quite satisfied and wanting to seek out a copy of the first one to quell the thirst. So yes I was disappointed but on the disappointment scale, not enough to condemn it to the ‘complete celluloid dogs’ pit. It was still good fun, a polished energetic romp.
If you’re new to this you might just enjoy this lively crime caper and prompt you to get out the first one to compare.