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October 15th, 2001 Issue #78

Hong Kong Digital is a recurring series of movie reviews by John Charles -- associate editor / film reviewer for Video Watchdog magazine and the author of The Hong Kong Filmography.

Ransom Express
(2000; Times Production)

Cover art courtesy Winson.
A Masterpiece
Highly Recommended
Very Good
Marginal Recommendation
Not Recommended
Definitely Not Recommended

Cantonese: Mong ming ji to
Mandarin: Wang ming zhi tao
English: Running From Death


Last week, we had a ripoff of RESERVOIR DOGS. Now, here's the HK version of Tom Tykwer's hyperkinetic German hit, RUN LOLA RUN. Unfortunately, RANSOM EXPRESS has none of that film's energy or creativity, ending up being only slightly better than what you would expect from the people who inflicted TOP BORROWER and KILLING ME HARDLY on the world. Alice Chan Wai (BIO COPS) has the Franka Potente role here as Ruby, who is in Kuala Lumpur for an underworld deal with her dimwitted boyfriend, Simon (Eric Wan Tin-chiu). Questioned by a suspicious motorcycle cop, Simon becomes nervous and leaves behind an envelope containing $RM360,000 that he was supposed to give to a feared (and notoriously punctual) gang boss. With no money at his disposal, it is up to Ruby to come up with that equivalent sum, within 90 minutes, in order to save his life. Running all over the city, the girl hits up everyone she knows for cash, including ex-boyfriend Chi-wai (Anthony Wong Chau-sang, getting top billing for a minor supporting role), who proves more hindrance than help.

Anthony Wong Chau-sang (left) and Alice Chan Wai (right). Image courtesy Winson.

RUN LOLA RUN dynamically presented its scenario three different ways, with the heroine having only 20 minutes to raise the cash; RANSOM EXPRESS presents it one way for 80 minutes and the best director Francis Nam Chi-wai can muster in terms of creativity are a few gimmicky camera angles and a hipper-than-usual soundtrack. If you have not seen the German picture, this might serve as a passable time killer but, even so, the humor is limp and the flashback / daydream padding is uninteresting.

DVD Specs:

Winson #WDV 3054R
Dolby Digital 2.0 and 5.1 options
Cantonese and Mandarin Language Tracks (both post-synched)
Optional Subtitles In English and Chinese (Traditional and Simplified)
9 Chapters Illustrated In the Menu With Clips
Letterboxed (1.85:1)
Coded for ALL Regions
79 Minutes
Contains mild violence and off-color humor

DVD menu courtesy Winson.

Film Board Ratings and Consumer Advice

Hong Kong: IIB [though IIA would have been appropriate]
Singapore: PG


The image is overly bright in spots, washing out the blacks and adding a slight haze. Otherwise, this is a nice, crisp transfer taken from a very clean print. The 5.1 options are a bit brighter than the 2.0 ones but it is essentially just "wide" mono and a faint buzz that can be heard during quiet moments on all four tracks. Trailers for THE WARNING TIME, THE TEACHER WITHOUT CHALK, and the anime GRANDMA AND HER GHOSTS are included. The case incorrectly lists the running time as 104 minutes.

RANSOM EXPRESS is available at Poker Industries.

Click here for more information about The Hong Kong Filmography

Copyright © John Charles 2000, 2001. All Rights Reserved.
E-mail: mail@dighkmovies.com

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