ARROW BLU RAY RELEASE: Running Out of Time Collection

Director Johnny To (The Heroic Trio) has created two different tales of criminal masterminds going up against the Hong Kong Police Force, led by Inspector Ho Sheung-sang (Lau Ching-wan).

The Arrow blu ray set comes with both Running Out of Time and its sequel, Running Out of Time 2. Both films appear with high-definition blu ray presentations that have been scanned and restored in 2K. As always, the packaging is incredible from Arrow, with original and newly commissioned artwork by Lucas Peverill plus an illustrated collectors’ booklet featuring new writing on the films by David West.

Running Out of Time has new commentary by Hong Kong film expert Frank Djeng, as well as a second commentary by writers Laurent Cortiaud and Julien Carbon, moderated by Hong Kong film expert Stefan Hammond. There are also interviews with Carbon and Courtiaud, Johnnie To, Lau Ching-wan and Raymond Wong. Plus, there’s a feature entitled The Directors’ Overview of Carbon and Courtiaud, the trailer and an image gallery.

Running Out of Time 2 also has commentary by Djeng, a making-of, Hong Kong Stories, a documentary by director Yves Montmayeur about Hong Kong cinema mythology via Julien Carbon and Laurent Courtiaud’s experience as writers in the HK film industry, the trailer and an image gallery.

You can get this set from MVD.

Running Out of Time (1999): Cheung Wah (Andy Lau) has been diagnosed with cancer and given four weeks to live. One night, as he eats at a diner, he takes notice of the way that Inspector Ho Sheung-sang handles a bank robbery. Impressed, he decides to play a game against the cop, giving him 72 hours to catch him for a series of increasingly daring crimes. Cheung will admit defeat if Ho can take him to the police station before three days are over.

Generally, Hong Kong cop movies are so deadly serious. This has some moments of that, as the disease killing Cheung is no joking matter. But by the end of the film, the two men have somehow earned each other’s respect, even if Cheung keeps outsmarting his police adversary the whole way to the very end.

Lau is an incredibly popular actor but rarely gets any respect. He’s a populist favorite, but this is the movie that finally won him Best Actor at the Hong Kong Film Awards. From stealing diamonds to repeatedly faking his demise, he’s the heart of this film.

Running Out of Time 2 (2001): Co-directed by Johnnie To and Law Wing-cheung, this sequel finds Inspector Ho Sheung-sang returning to match wits with another criminal mastermind, the unnamed man played by Ekin Cheng.

The man introduces himself by faking his suicide by jumping from a roof. He then announces that he has stolen several priceless Chinese treasures and will tell the press, ruining the insurance company that has been hired to protect them. Where Cheung in the first film relied on his brains, this mysterious magician can tightrope walk and seemingly disappear into thin air.

There’s an amazing scene where a chase between the two rivals is paused for water and ice cream. The unnamed man also uses bald eagles to help him steal from people and if that joke means what I think it does, well done.

The follow-up is much funnier than the first film, but it keeps so much of what made me love that movie. It’s definitely worth your attention.

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