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Running out of Time 2 - Movie Poster
Original Title:
Am zin 2

Hong Kong 2001

Crime, Comedy

Johnnie To
Hui Siu-Hung

Lau Ching Wan
Ekin Cheng
Kelly Lin
Lam Suet
Hui Siu-Hung
Ruby Wong

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Running out of Time 2

Story: Inspector Ho (Lau Ching Wan) is called to a possible suicide attempt, but the man (Ekin Cheng) standing on the rooftop of the scyscraper just wants to introduce himself to Ho as his new opponent. Ho is wiretapping Teresa (Kelly Lin), a businesswoman who has to pay an insurance sum as three valuable artefacts have been stolen, for a while already and without official consent. Suddenly the man from the rooftop contacts Teresa and demands a ransom for the three artefacts. Teresa is willing to pay, since she is about to sign a big deal and doesn't want any bad publicity for her company leading to a dealbreaker at the last minute. But Inspector Ho turns up at her company and offers his help. However, the thief already knows that Ho is working on the case and entangles the inspector in a game in which the thief is always one step ahead of Ho. The thief likes to work with smoke bombs and illusions and every time Inspector Ho believes to get a hold of him he escapes with some magic trick. Despite the mutual respect of the two opponents the game become more and more serious.

Review: No doubt, "Running out of Time 2" is an entertaining and at times smart thriller which still has to struggle with one problem: It is a sequel. Accordingly, the filmmakers had to try to outdo the first installment in any way possible. Partly they might have succeeded, but the price they paid for it is disproportionately high. The film often seems to be a parody of itself and you can never be sure whether this was intented or not. Another shortcoming is that the thriller is too lighthearted. We never doubt that nothing bad is about to happen during the cat-and-mouse-hunt. And this even though there are some pretty precarious and even life-endangering situations. This takes away a lot of the movie's tension and makes it fall below expectations.

Running out of Time 2 - Film Screenshot 11

Detective Ho from "Running out of Time" is back and many other supporting actors return to their old roles, too. Only Andy Lau is replaced by Ekin Cheng ("The Storm Warriors", "Divergence"). Cheng is known for delivering rather poor acting at times, but this time there is no reason for complaints. His character may remain a bit shallow, especially concerning his motives, but the nameless thief is certainly no bad guy, no one is harmed by him and in his very own way he also tries to heal a gambling-addicted cop, in a supporting role once again played fantastically by Lam Suet, from his addiction. The emotionally most engaging scene in the movie.

Running out of Time 2 - Film Screenshot 12

Naturally, the movie is again driven by the mutual respect of the two opponents. How much the hunt for the thief is also a game becomes particularly apparent in one special scene in which the policeman and the thief are having a bycicle race on a nightly street after Ho has already chased the thief through the whole town half of the day. Ultimately, the thief always seems to be one step ahead of Ho, though. As already stated it also is a shame that we know from the very beginning how things are going to turn out. Anyway, Ho is in fact the smartest guy in the police force. His partner Wong Kai Fat is nothing more than a big laughingstock. But his presence isn't solely offering some occasional laughs, at times it is simply annoying. Also helping in the investigation is the reserved superwoman Teresa, who sadly can't differentiate between left and right as we realize during a funny car chasing scene.

Teresa is played by Kelly Lin, who should play in later works of Johnnie To as well, like "Sparrow" or "Mad Detective". However, Johnnie To hasn't been on the director's chair alone, but took on the task alongside Law Wing-cheong who ten years later should shoot "Punished". The pictures are very good looking, just as we would expect from the Milkyway production company, and the lighting of the scenes certainly can be attributed to To. A few unusual camera angles, in which faces seem to be shot from too close, certify that the film somehow should still be located in the 90s. As was the case in the first installment the soundtrack is again pushing itself too much into the foreground, with the difference that it happens too often in "Running out of Time 2".

Running out of Time 2 - Film Screenshot 13

Lau Ching Wan carries the movie on his shoulders very skillfully, yet not just Detective Ho but all the other characters as well seem extremely likeable. Johnnie To clearly wants to entertain the audience in the most laid-back manner possible with this sequel. Sometimes this leads to the scenes becoming unnecessarily ridiculous or simply can't be taken serious at all (Ekin Cheng dances across a wire that goes from one skyscraper to the next with an umbrella in his hand!). Moreover, the film constantly loses momentum as well and you start to ask yourself where the story is supposed to head. In the end the movie lacks any real substance and therefore you will only be able to have the most possible fun with "Running out of Time 2" if you just let yourself get infected by the fun the two directors and the actors had during the shooting. Because the film certainly can't reach the class of the first part.

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
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