CAUGHT IN TIME (除暴) DVD (2020)
SYNOPSIS: Seasoned screenwriter Lau Ho Leung, who made his directorial debut with the 2015 heist film Two Thumbs Up, raises the stakes in his thrilling sophomore effort Caught in Time. Produced by Soi Cheang, the crime actioner stars Wang Qianyuan (Saving Mr. Wu) as a dogged detective and Daniel Wu (Tomb Raider) as the ruthless criminal he's chasing. Based loosely on true events about China's most wanted criminal of the nineties, the gripping action-packed thriller follows the years-long hunt for the notorious outlaw who committed robberies and killings in multiple provinces throughout the decade. Criminal detective Zhong Cheng (Wang Qianyuan) is ordered to hunt down a group of criminals known as the Eagle Gang. Armed, disciplined and dangerous, the gang commits a series of shocking violent robberies, and brazen gang leader Zhang Sun (Daniel Wu) repeatedly challenges and provokes the police. Zhong vows to take down the Eagle Gang but Zhang stays one step ahead, as he continuously evades capture over the years while ramping up their crime spree.
Caught In Time is loosely based on a ruthless robbery gang dubbed Eagle that committed numerous deadly banks and jewelry stores robberies in China during the early nineties. Their operation is slick and immaculately planned all thanks to their charismatic and quick-witted leader, Zhang Jun (Daniel Wu).
In comes Police Captain Zhong Cheng (Wang Qianyuan from Saving Mr. Wu), a hard-boiled cop from Chongqing who is determined to arrest Zhang after stumbling into one of his crime sprees earlier. But somehow, Zhang and his gang remains an enigma, all the while committing more robberies as the days goes. But when a confrontation between Zhong and Zhang left one of his accomplices’ dead, the gang decides to move their operation into another province.
While Trivisa is a gritty, violent movie that explored the characteristics about three notorious Hong Kong criminals, Caught In Time is more in tune with a typical 90’s Hong Kong action thriller despite the almost similar theme. In other words, it’s short, brief and highly enjoyable if you can forgive the fact that it’s being touted as a true story. So let’s just get on to the negative stuff, shall we?
The script clearly lacks a backstory for both Zhang and Zhong. What leads to Zhang embarking on a crime spree and harboring no sympathy for anyone that gets in his way? He even gifts a grenade to an innocent boy who happens to play on a street. To a certain extent, he does seem pretty nice to his mother (a special appearance by Hong Kong veteran Nina Paw) who runs a bathhouse though. Along the way, he even falls in love with a woman who is about to commit suicide.
Zhong on the other hand seems to be estranged from his family. He is the typical dedicated supercop in the police force. Probably neglecting his family the whole time that his daughter needs to call him at work to ask him on how to solve a math problem. Unmistakably, both are distinctly humans on different sides of the law. The fact that the script fares rather weak on the above mentioned is pretty much regrettable.
Still, like a breathless 90’s HK actioner, the movie delivers promptly in all areas where it comes to shootouts and explosions. The shootouts are brilliantly choreographed, shot visually stunningly on streets that are dressed like 90’s China. The action moves from one street to another, one province to another, hardly for anyone including the audiences to catch their breath. The final confrontation which took place in a bathhouse is brutal and engaging, an impeccable end to the crime drama.
Daniel Wu who in recent years has moved back to the states to dabble in Hollywood productions is brilliant as Zhang. Sporting a mullet, Wu is both imposing and charming as the mysterious criminal. Wang Qianyuan as always shines in whatever roles he is given, whether it’s a crook or a righteous soldier. Director and writer Lau Ho Leung’s sophomore directorial effort after Two Thumbs Up is a recommendable China production that resembles a past Hong Kong flick. Perhaps removing a propaganda message at the end of the movie might be a better move next time.
The Dolby Digial 5.1 is superb in terms of sound and ambient design.
DVD RATING :
Review by Linus Tee