Running Out Of Time (1999)

Directed by
Another Milkyway triumph
Reviewed by Simon on 2006-01-07

Lau Ching-Wan is an SDU negotiatior - cool, confident and not a big fan of authority. Andy Lau is a super-cool thief, master of disguise and the cunning plan. When Andy learns that he is dying, he decides to engage Ching-Wan in a game of cops n' robbers.

This tale of wheels-within-wheels intrigue is another Milkyway triumph, oozing coolness and sophistication from every pore (just like Andy Lau does in the film) and directed with the cool confidence that comes from a director who has full control, and knows exactly what he wants to do in every scene. It caps a run of seminal films from To, which constituted a veritable reinvention of Hong Kong cinema post-1997 - and in this case a reinvention of Andy Lau, revealing a level of class that his earlier career rarely hinted at.

The soundtrack, cinematography and editing are stylish and sometimes beautiful, creating a rather dreamy, abstract feel that suits a film that wastes almost no time on "fluff" like back-story - it's very lean, economical film-making that credits the audience with enough intelligence not to have to spell everything out. Like a dream, the plot is rather implausible if you try to analyse it too much afterwards, but it all seems to make sense at the time, and is a very enjoyable ride.