A corrupt cop named Sam handles negotiations between two Triad leaders who plan to join forces. However, he meets a suspicious bald man named Tony, who keeps following him around and disrupting his personal business.
Ching Wan Lau,
Tony Chiu Wai Leung,
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We meet the PTU on one of their worse nights. Chasing a suspect, a police sergeant loses his gun, and streets away, the son of a crime lord is stabbed to death in a small restaurant. We follow the PTU in their attempts to both find the policeman's weapon and prevent the fallout from the murder escalating. While it sounds an intriguing premise, PTU is not the pacey action-thriller you might expect, but is instead a slow, dark, and tense journey through the HK underworld.
Some scenes are brilliant, the use of harsh light and almost omnipresent shadow works well, effectively capturing the mood of the underworld. There's some real artistry here, and it's for that reason that the pacing frequently seems to be a little slow; the scenes look so good that the camera lingers on them for perhaps too long, causing pacing issues in some sections. However, it does work well in terms of suspense as the film builds towards its inevitably violent conclusion.
On a negative note, the music is terrible, and significantly dates a film that's only four years old. You have to wonder if they ran out of action movie ambiance sounds and just hit the classic cheese guitar button instead, but I guess that's just an Eastern film meets Western audience convention clash. It does however, in my opinion, completely undermine the final scene, which comes across as faintly ridiculous instead of as a dramatic release.
While it suffers from pacing and score issues, PTU's style and sense of tragic irony are enough to make it enjoyable if not quite essential viewing.
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