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Running on Karma (2003)

Cast: Andy Lau, Andy Lau, Cecilia Cheung, more...
Director: Wai Ka-Fai, Wai Ka-Fai, Johnny To, more...
    see all cast/crew...
Studio: Tai Seng
Genre: Action, Foreign, Hong Kong, China
Running Time: 93 min.
Languages: Cantonese, Mandarin
Subtitles: English, Cantonese, Mandarin
    see additional details...

"Big" (Andy Lau of Infernal Affairs, wearing a gargantuan prosthetic muscle suit) is a competition weight lifter and part-time male stripper. One night while dancing at a strip club, Big responds to the frantic exhortations of a comely patron (Cecilia Cheung) and strips completely naked. Unfortunately for Big, she turns out to be Detective Li, and she promptly busts him for indecent exposure. Worse yet, a murder has just taken place in the office above the club, and when Big tries to escape his minor charge, he's caught by the cops and questioned in connection with the murder. Detective Li helps him get out of the jam, and he, in turn, helps her track down the elusive killer. Li develops a romantic interest in Big, but he seems to want to avoid her. Pressed to explain himself, he eventually reveals his bizarre and tragic past. Big was a kung fu monk until a woman friend of his was murdered years ago, sending him into an uncontrollable rage, during which he inadvertently killed a sparrow. After meditating over the bird's corpse for a long time, Big developed the ability to "see karma." He can look at any animal (including people) and see what they did in their past lives. When he looks at Detective Li, he sees that in a former life she was a brutal Japanese soldier who murdered many. Even though she's a good person, she still carries that soldier's karma, and Big believes she'll eventually have to die for his crimes. Despite his misgivings, he finds himself increasingly drawn to the persistent young cop. Running on Karma was directed by the team of Johnny To and Wai Ka-fai (PTU). The film was shown at the 2004 edition of Subway Cinema's New York Asian Film Festival. ~ Josh Ralske, All Movie Guide

GreenCine Member Reviews

The Best Superhero Movie by kamapuaa July 29, 2004 - 1:49 AM PDT
1 out of 2 members found this review helpful
Johnny To can be inconsistent, but I find him the most intriguing director out there. Because despite the ups and downs, he's still managed to create some of my favorite movies in multiple genres. And it's easy to forgive his faults, as they're often a matter of his ambition overreaching his skill, and his talents are constantly improving. I fully expect Johnny To to someday release the greatest movie ever made. This movie isn't quite it. But it still manages to be the best superhero movie ever made.

The superhero aspect is a bit understated, more Unbreakable than Spider-Man. The movie shows a world of cops and robbers, except the police also have to deal with the occasional super-villian. Andy Lau plays a super-hero, a super strong Buddhist monk who can see people's past life, and predict what's going to happen in their current one off of that. He's wearing a muscle suit that's slightly ridiculous. Despite all of this, Andy Lau still manages to come off as a real person, one who happens to be a super-hero.

Unlike the other reviewer, I wasn't bothered by the relative lack of action at the end - the director was trying for other things. Instead, I was bothered that this movie was overflowing with interesting ideas, but didn't so much unite them into a whole. Villians come and go without warning, key concepts are introduced late, the drama didn't quite gel, and so forth.

Ran out of gas by kohnfused1 July 12, 2004 - 9:48 AM PDT
4 out of 6 members found this review helpful
This is an interesting movie with an original idea. Coming from Hong Kong cinema, you can pretty much expect zany and/or quirky characters and this is no different. The movie starts off well, but fizzles out near the end. I would have wanted more action sequences since the lead character is a well-built ex-monk, who strips for a living. (yeah, you heard me.) However, when the premise of Buddhism (and karma)was introduced at the end, it slowed down its momentum and weakened the effect of the whole movie.

GreenCine Member Rating

(Average 6.49)
77 Votes
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