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Midnight Running
Chinese: 反斗狂奔
Derek Tsang and Maya Rumiko
Year: 2006
Director: Wong Chung-Ning
Producer: Sam Leung Tak-Sum, Shin Yoneyama
Cast: Timmy Hung Tin-Ming, Derek Tsang Kwok-Cheung, Maya Rumiko, Calvin Choi Yat-Chi, Carl Ng Ka-Lung, Samuel Pang King-Chi, Wing Cheung Wing-Yin, Roderick Lam, Winston Yeh
The Skinny: Wannabe clever crime comedy that succeeds at being mildly entertaining if not all that good. The fact that it stars a bunch of second generation Hong Kong actors is probably more exciting than the actual film.
by Kozo:

A bunch of second generation Hong Kong stars take center stage in Midnight Running, a crime caper comedy that's mildly entertaining, if not really that good. Timmy Hung is Paul, a down-on-his-luck cop who gets caught up in a triad mix-em-up on Christmas Eve. Paul accidentally gets wind of a big deal involving the Tung Hing Group, and it may just be his ticket back into respectable law enforcement. A gratingly cute Japanese pickpocket named Mari (Maya Rumiko) steals a briefcase which contains a list of all Tung Hing members, which sends the entire triad into a tizzy. Nice guy bartender Peter (Derek Tsang) gets drafted by the Tung Hing dudes to chase down Mari because he knows barely passable Japanese. When Paul gets involved in the mess, he, Peter, and Mari find themselves at odds - though if they joined forces, they might each get what they're looking for. Meanwhile, triad boss OD (Calvin Choi of band Grasshopper) fumes over the lost name list.

Semi-clever detail number one: the lead characters are named Peter, Paul, and Mari. Given the film's setting (Christmas Eve), one assumes that the reference here is to the followers of Jesus, and not the sixties folk group. If that bit of cleverness doesn't bowl you over, then check this out: both Peter and Mari carry photos of a beach in Cuba as a tribute to their idol, Ernest Hemingway. That connection, plus a shared addiction to mojitos, turns the two from antagonists into instant soulmates, the idea being they can blackmail Tung Sing for the list of names and use the ransom to open up a bar in Cuba - again, as a tribute to their idol, Ernest Hemingway. Paul wants the name list to show up Inspector Lee (Carl Ng), whose smarmy attitude annoys him. While at a Christmas party, Paul submits this earnest wish: to see Lee get a bullet in the buttocks. Wow, do you think that might actually happen by the end of the film?

I'll give it away: it does, along with pretty much every other predictable occurrence one could imagine. Midnight Running telegraphs every one of its clever plot twists such that they cease being clever and start becoming cloying. When the story isn't trying to be clever, it's just plain lazy. After realizing that Mari has taken off with the name list, the Tung Sing group mobilizes to find her - which they do, by either walking into the correct bar or bumping into her on the street. Hong Kong seems to be about three blocks large in Midnight Running - which isn't so bad, since the three blocks include Lan Kwai Fong, Exchange Square, and some trendy bar locales. Factor in an appearance by the Star Ferry Walkway, and it's old home week for expatriates who never leave Hong Kong Island. If you don't live in Hong Kong, the cheery Christmas atmosphere may prove charming. Action junkies might go for the one or two hand-to-hand fights, which are less creative than they are simply a relief from the hokey happenings. Midnight Running starts introducing faux double-crosses, shifting allegiances, and blatantly comic characters as a means of keeping things interesting, and to be fair, interest is kept. It's marginal interest, but interest nonetheless.

But of more interest: a possible Spawn of the Lucky Stars film! Midnight Running features the offspring of three of the Lucky Stars, including Eric Tsang's kid Derek, Richard Ng's kid Carl, and Sammo Hung's kid Timmy. If they had coralled the kids of John Sham, Stanley Fung, or maybe even Charlie Chin or Miu Kiu-Wai into appearing then they could have rode the Lucky Stars connection for perhaps an extra $500 of box office money. Sadly, nobody in marketing noted the connection, so Midnight Running got only a nominal cinema release and a fanfare-less DVD release.

In fairness, the lack of attention is not undue; while amusing as a time-killing measure, Midnight Running is also completely unnecessary and really not that good. It tries hard to be a fun caper comedy, such that a mostly-sincere thumbs up can be given based solely on effort. If you're scraping the barrel for new Hong Kong films to watch, you should definitely check this film out before Dating a Vampire or even Love Undercover 3. Still, Love Undercover 3 has more obvious star wattage in Fiona Sit, which could sway the some cinema hounds that direction. Whether or not you dial up this film out may have a lot to do with what A or B level stars float your boat. If you like Timmy Hung, Derek Tsang, or the gratingly cute Maya Rumiko, then Midnight Running is here to answer your call. For everyone else: see nothing and read a good book instead. (Kozo 2006)



DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 0 NTSC
ERA Home Video
Cantonese and Mandarin Language Tracks
Removable English and Chinese Subtitles

image credit: ERA Home Video Copyright 2002-2017 Ross Chen