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Running Out of Time 1 & 2 (Masters of Cinema) (Blu-ray Review)

REVIEW OVERVIEW

The Film (Running Out of Time)
The Film (Running Out of Time 2)
The Video (Running Out of Time)
The Video (Running Out of Time 2)
The Audio (Running Out of Time)
The Audio (Running Out of Time 2)
The Supplements
Overall

SUMMARY

Two cat-and-mouse crime capers from Hong Kong director Johnnie To featuring Ching Wan Lau as Inspector Ho Sheung-Sang.

The Masters of Cinema series brings together on this two-Blu-ray set Johnnie To’s Running Out of Time films. Written by French screenwriting duo Julien Carbon and Laurent Courtiaud, the first film in the franchise in particular has become a classic of Hong Kong cinema and at the time was one of Hong Kong’s biggest box office performers.

A thrilling cat-and-mouse crime caper, the first film follows super thief Cheung Wah (Andy Lau, who won the Best Actor award at the 2000 Hong Kong Film Awards for his role) who is told by his doctor he only has 72 hours to live, and the analytical police negotiator Inspector Ho Sheung Sang (Lau Ching-wan). Upon finding out his prognosis, Cheung Wah is determined to take on the entire police force and he challenges Inspector Ho to find him and find out what his plans are before it is too late.

In Running Out of Time 2, the lesser of the two films, To tries to recapture the energy and spirit of the first film in the opening minutes by even reusing a gag where Lau Ching-wan, reprising his role as Inspector Ho, initially catches the thief, this time out Ken (Ekin Cheng), an art thief with a flair for the dramatic, by pretending to be a cab driver. The film continues with the chase as a beautiful insurance executive with a lot to lose is drawn into the mix, Inspector Ho’s hapless sidekick Assistant Commissioner Wong Kai Fa (Hui Shiu-hung) and even a foot chase between the inspector and the thief. To manages to up the ante on the action for this second outing, but the stakes never feel quite as high or mysterious given the more comedic overtones of the thief and multiple subplots.

The Video

Both Running Out of Time films have been scanned and restored in 2K and are brought to Blu-ray in 1.85:1 AVC 1080p encodements. There is a good amount of natural film grain layered across the image for each film and detail is solid. Source damage is not an issue, but there are times in both films where the shadows and overall color looks a little washed out and also some film softness creeps in. These things aside, the overall presentation is satisfying and organic.

The Audio

Each film comes with the original Cantonese audio mix in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 as well as a Mandarin DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 dub and an English LPCM 1.0 dub. While the mixes provide clean dialogue and a good bit of ambient effects in the surround channels, they won’t be setting the home theater sound system on fire or anything and often seem a little bit unbalanced as if they are just remembering to activate the surround channels. The first film comes across as having slightly better sound.

The Supplements

There are a number of bonus features packed into this set for each film, including excellent audio commentaries from Frank Djeng who never disappoints.

  • Limited Edition slipcase featuring new artwork by Grégory Sacré (Gokaiju) [First 2000 copies]
  • A collector’s booklet featuring new writing on both films

Running Out of Time 1

  • Audio Commentary with Asian Film Expert Frank Djeng
  • Audio Commentary with Screenwriters Julien Carbon & Laurent Courtiaud
  • Interviews:
    • Julien Carbon & Laurent Courtiaud (2003) (1080i/60; 00:21:57) – This interview with the screenwriters was originally filmed by Spectrum Films for the French DVD release in 2003.
    • Julien Carbon & Laurent Courtiaud (2005) (1080i/60; 00:37:09) — This interview with the screenwriters was originally filmed by Tai Seng Films for the UK DVD release in 2005.
    • Johnnie To (1080i/60; 00:11:43) – This interview with Johnnie To was originally filmed by Spectrum Films for the French DVD release in 2003.
    • Lau Ching-wan (1080i/60; 00:25:19) — This interview with actor Lau Ching-wan was originally filmed by Spectrum Films for the French DVD release in 2003.
    • Raymond Wong (1080i/60; 00:27:24) — This interview with composer Raymond Wong was originally filmed by Spectrum Films for the French DVD release in 2003.
    • The Director’s Overview of Carbon and Cortiaud (1080i/60; 00:08:24) – A short archival featurette about the screenwriters’ work by some of their collaborators, originally created for the Tai Seng UK DVD release in 2005.
    • Theatrical Trailer (1080p)
    • Image Gallery (1080p)

Running Out of Time 2

  • Audio Commentary with Asian Film Expert Frank Djeng
  • The Making of Running Out of Time 2 (1080i/60; 00:05:46) – An archival ‘making of’ featurette, shot during production.
  • Hong Kong Stories (1080i/60; 00:49:45) — A documentary by Yves Montmayeur (Johnnie Got His Gun!) about Hong Kong cinema mythology, via the experience of French screenwriters Julien Carbon and Laurent Coutiaud in the Hong Kong film industry, with contributions from Wong Kar Wai, Tsui Hark, Daniel Lee, and Johnny To.
  • Theatrical Trailer (1080p)
  • Image Gallery (1080p)

The Final Assessment

While the first film is the superior of the two, both Running Out of Time movies are a bang-up time and excellent examples of the latter day of Hong Kong cinema. These are slick, quick-paced, and well thought out action/crime films that keep you engaged. The transfers provided from Eureka are more than up to snuff making this overall package most worthy of the Masters of Cinema imprint.

Running Out of Time 1 & 2 is out on Blu-ray in the UK 1 August 2022 from Eureka Entertainment


  • Rating Certificate: UK-15
  • Studios & Distributors: China Star Entertainment | Win’s Entertainment Ltd. | Milky Way Image Company | Eureka Entertainment
  • Director: Johnnie To
  • Written By: Yau Nai-Hoi | Laurent Courtiaud | Julien Carbon
  • Run Time: 188 Mins.
  • Street Date: 1 August 2022
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Video Format: AVC 1080p
  • Primary Audio: Cantonese DTS-HD MA 5.1
  • Secondary Audio: Mandarin DTS-HD MA 5.1 | English LPCM 1.0 | English DTS-HD MA 5.1
  • Subtitles: English
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Running Out of Time 1 & 2 (Masters of Cinema) (Blu-ray Review)Two cat-and-mouse crime capers from Hong Kong director Johnnie To featuring Ching Wan Lau as Inspector Ho Sheung-Sang.
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