Ransom Express (2000) / Thriller-Action
aka Miu Meng Ji Tiu
aka Ransom Run
MPAA Rated: Not rated, but probably R for violence, sexuality and language
Running time: 80 min.
Cast: Eric Wan, Alice Chan, Anthony Wong, Lam Chi-Ho
Director: Frances Nam
Screenplay: Leung Hung Wah
The problem with Ransom Express isn't so much that it is a blatant theft of Tom Tykwer's cult classic Run Lola Run, but that it doesn't rip off that wholly original German film enough to make this rehash tolerable. It's as if the makes of this Cantonese version said, "Let's steal a movie people like, except in our version, we'll make every aspect worse across the board". This means weaker actors, sillier dialogue, more lackluster direction, dumber humor, and snooze-inducing attempts at visual flair. When just about anyone with a DVD player can pick up a copy of Run Lola Run, why in the world would they want to see the same film done poorly??
Eric Wan (Century of the Dragon) stars as Simon Fish, a two-bit crook visiting Kuala Lumpur that ends up losing a large sum of cash he was to pay to a very persistent and impatient triad leader. The bad guys threaten his brother and then Simon himself, giving a ninety minute deadline for Simon's girlfriend, Ruby (Alice Chan, Wicked Ghost II), to cough up the money, or else. Ruby has to hoof it all over town, starting with almost nothing, and trying to make enough money to keep Simon alive.
As mentioned before, the plagiarism of Run Lola Run just didn't extend far enough to make Ransom Express distinguished, even if the German original never existed. Gone is the unique look of Tykwer's film, its sassy heroine, its hyper-kinetic visual style, and its fragmented narrative. What are left are a deadline, a woman running, and lots of repetitive techno music, all surrounded by irritating characters and lifeless plotting, with almost no motivation coming close to making any rational sense.
If you have already seen Run Lola Run, my recommendation is to stay away from this vastly dumbed-down retread. If you haven't seen it, my recommendation is still not to watch this, even if the premise piques your interest, and rent Run Lola Run instead.
©2005 Vince Leo