Runaway



Reviewed by YTSL

For reasons that should be obvious to those who have checked them out:  There are some films -- e.g., the beautifully shot “Babette’s Feast”, the engaging “Eat, Drink, Man, Woman”, the innovative “God of Cookery”, the spirited “The Chinese Feast” (bear paws and all) and the at times quite mouthwatering sections filled “Love on a Diet” (yes, really!) -- that I don’t think should be viewed on an empty stomach.  Then there are those works that probably would benefit from being viewed by persons who do have something alcoholic to drink before and/or while viewing them.  Among these are the probably demented Chu Yen Ping’s “Fantasy Mission Force”, “Amazon Commando” and “Pink Force Commando”.

Although the Dante Lam directed -- and co-produced (along with Joe Cheung) -- RUNAWAY is far more well made and watchable than those three insanely baaad 1980s Taiwanese movies I only opted to check out because Brigitte Lin actually -- and almost unbelievably -- appears in them, this 2001 Hong Kong production -- which is largely set in Phuket, Thailand -- is one other offering that I reckon would have been (more) enjoyable if I had been in a semi-inebriated state.  This is partly because the Daneil Lam presentation features more than its share of scenes of generally relaxed folks quite happily knocking back copious amounts of lager that would not look all that out of place in a beer commercial.  Mainly though, it’s due to that which seems to be some weird combo of a road movie, crime drama, comedy and unlikely romance possibly being one of those works whose various sections might appear to gel better if its viewer is in a state that would discourage him or her from being overly-critical of the effort’s often wayward plus meandering plot containing significant numbers of holes, amounts of discontinuity and many individuals who are prone to doing the unexpected as a matter of course.

Put another way:  The sense that I get is that RUNAWAY -- whose English subtitles, more than incidentally, may well rival those of “Peking Opera Blues” in terms of being horribly hex error filled -- is a film that should be viewed while in a frame of mind that allows one to not only enjoy watching most of the principal cast members bungee jumping off a 50 meter high structure (that one of them points out is equivalent to the height of 36 Michael Jordans or 50 Andy Laus!) but also think that it makes sense plot-wise for at least three of those individuals to have done so.  Similarly, it would help one’s appreciation of this offering to be in the sort of mood to not only be amused by the sight of a short leather shorts wearing Anthony Wong unknowingly taking part in a gay pride parade -- or this same somewhat pudgy man attempting to dance seductively on a stage whose props include the kind of pole on which scantily clad females get paid to drape themselves around -- but also understand, and even admire, what this individual is willing to do to please the woman he clearly is infatuated with, and whose affections he so badly wants to win.
More than by the way, Anthony Wong pretty much steals the movie from its lead actor.  Unfortunately, despite his (character) being the one with the most colorless personality, Nick Cheung it is who gets the most screen-time.  Alternatively, one can thank goodness for small mercies in that the individual who had been inexplicably touted as being “the next Stephen Chow” is much less annoying here than in such as “The Teacher Without Chalk” and “Conman in Tokyo”.  Additionally, RUNAWAY does benefit from being the kind of work that is more of an ensemble piece -- whose cast (and crew) can appear to consist of a bunch of closet plus unmitigated hedonists who were very happy to have been presented with a paid opportunity to take in some sun and fun! -- than a star vehicle for anyone.
For those who want a(ny) movie review to have at least a paragraph’s worth of description re a film’s plot:  This distinctly offbeat -- to the say the least -- movie’s (main) story supposedly begins in earnest with two junior Triads (Dan is played by Nick Cheung and King by Samuel Pang) cheating their boss, Elder Brother Kwan (Joe Lee sporting a particularly memorable head of hair), of HK$200,000 and eschewing an escape across the Mainland China-HKSAR border in favor of embarking on a “Phuket Deluxe RUNAWAY Tour”.  However, what follows is less of an organized bid by the errant duo to elude the clutches of such as the tough looking guy (Tai comes in the formidable appearing form of Ken Lo) sent to find, capture and bring them back to Hong Kong than a series of loosely related minor escapades involving them along with such as “ladyboy” beach volleyball players and “black leg” nocturnal human organ harvesters in addition to an interestingly attired, Cantonese speaking thrill-seeker (Phaik Ching is not your typical Ruby Wong character), a mute tattoo artist who turns out to also be a hitwoman (portrayed by Wu An-ya) and a love-lorn rival senior Triad (Elder Brother Ray is essayed with characteristic quirkiness by Anthony Wong).
Although all this may sound complicated, the unhurried pace at which events unfold makes for RUNAWAY being the kind of not particularly sophisticated offering whose proceedings really are not difficult at all to follow.  Indeed, some of its stars are shown spending such substantial amounts of time lolling in or by a pool, in bars and other places that are integral parts of tropical holiday resort towns like Phuket that the viewer will have plenty of time mulling the possibility of this fairly pleasant (but almost too relaxed) work being the casual creation of movie makers who were more intent on successfully hatching and enacting a plan that allowed them to get in some fun vacation time in a scenic locale that’s not that far away -- yet still is ideally different -- from their bustling and (over-)crowded home territory.

My rating for the film:  6.