Review by Neo: After the terribly filmed, Tactical Unit: The Code, the series goes for a U-turn and the good news is that it is for the better. The second installment in the PTU sequels produced by acclaimed original filmmaker Johnnie To is a welcome addition. Directed by someone who genuinely explores human emotions in his past resume, Lawrence Lau fills the bill perfectly by using PTU as a backdrop for a dramatic emotional experience. Lau is a clever director that remains extremely grounded throughout all these years. In Lee Rock, Lau showed good and bad cops and eventually the process of blurring the boundaries. In the more recent My Name is Fame, Lau explored the good and bad aspects of the Hong Kong entertainment industry, but at its very core, he was trying to use Lau Ching Wan to portray a real character, real emotions and ultimately an award winning performance. Like the above films, Lau instill an injection of characterization in his drama and in the process recreated some much needed interest for the PTU series.
The movie starts off like a PTU movie, but then lends itself to focus on a couple of social outcast. Derek Tsang matures in the role of someone who does not belong to the world of Hong Kong, slightly handicapped; he is bashed by both side of the law. He finds redemption in a prostitute from Mainland China, but soon, they are being treated cruelly by both triads and the cops.
While this might not seem like an interesting premise, the movie somehow manages to engage and actually works on a number of levels. Also of special mention is the realism that Lau is willing to go, from the brutal bashing, raping, and also the usual PTU stable of police are ultimately human and with or without the uniforms are ultimately flawed characters. What surprised me is the coming of age of Eric Tsang's son. Derek Tsang puts in an incredible display of acting potential, sure he is already a somehow acclaimed screenwriter, but his real talent lies in acting. The way he displayed and portrayed a slightly handicapped who is trying and trying to survive on the cruel streets of Hong Kong is both inspiring and demeaning. Certainly a performance that his father will be proud of and most definitely should be nominated for Best Supporting Actor in some kind of award.
The usual stable of Simon Yam, Maggie Siu and Lam Suet are regulated to the background and Lau smartly uses the PTU background as a base for realism and humanity. There is also a lot to admire of the acting of another relatively unknown actress (Wu Li) who played the prostitute. While not exactly beautiful, she was immensely convincing and at times captivating to watch. Note the scenes at the toilet or the raping sequence; Li have done herself proud by creating some memorable moments as well as some seriously good acting. As usual Samuel Pang is not a good actor, and it is still bewildering as to why he is constantly given roles after roles, despite having zero charisma and screen presence. Certainly he is weak link for the film and not worthy of being associated with the Milky Way image.
All in all, director Lau have created a worthy film experience by not focusing on PTU actions, the movie fills original, unhampered and ultimately realistic in an affecting manner. Filled with some good acting from relatively newcomers in Derek Tsang and Wu Li, as the well as the chemistry that belied that both. Tactical Unit: No Way Out is at its core a drama about human survival, the reason for people's actions, and once again the consequence of our actions. The result is that, No Way Out tunes in as not only a worthy addition to the PTU series, but also as a standalone drama in its own right. Perhaps, after the sheer disappointment of The Code, there is finally a Way Out after all (Neo 2009)
I rate it 8/10
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