Running Out of Time

Running Out of Time (; literal title: Hidden War) is a 1999 Hong Kong action thriller film produced and directed by Johnnie To and starring Andy Lau as a cancer-ridden criminal who challenges a police negotiator, played by Lau Ching-wan, to a 72-hour battle of wits and courage. Andy Lau won his first Hong Kong Film Award for Best Actor in 2000 for his performance in the film. The film was followed by a sequel, Running Out of Time 2, which was released in 2001.


Cheung Wah (Andy Lau) is diagnosed as suffering from late-stage cancer and given four weeks to live by his doctor. He told his doctor to prescribe him with painkillers to tide him over the final weeks of his life. As Chueng eats at a diner, Inspector Ho Sheung-sang (Lau Ching-wan), a police negotiator, has been called to the scene of a bank robbery standoff that's being bungled by his inept boss, Wong Kai-fat (Benz Hui). After listening repeatedly to the taped recordings of the earlier negotiation between Wong and the robbers, Ho assessed that the robbers are professionals and goes in to negotiate with the robbers. After goading the robbers to release the injured hostages first, a man amongst the hostages stands up and shoots the robbers dead. The man flashes his police identification card at Ho and claims to be an off-duty police officer. However, Ho recognizes the man's sniffing as similar to that of the robber's sniffing in the taped recording of the earlier negotiations and realized that the man is the mastermind of the robbery. Just as the man attempts to shoot and silence Ho, the latter convinces the man that it is impossible to shoot him and get away with it as his fingerprints would be all over the murder weapon. As Ho leaves the crime scene to grab some breakfast, a shot rings out and Ho tells Wong that the robbery mastermind has committed suicide.