Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

The second Johnny To film in two weeks to get a release, PTU is the less accomplished of the two – although since it was made back in 2003, there should be little surprise it lacks the polish of last week’s excellent Exiled.

The PTU refers not to some piece of high-end computer circuitry, but to the Police Tactical Unit – a crack squad of Hong Kong officers who find themselves embroiled in gangland power-playing after an old colleague of theirs, Sergeant Lo (Lam Suet), manages to lose his gun.

Copy picture

In the spirit of a battle being lost for the want of a horseshoe nail, Lo’s gun mishap spirals into increasingly greater farce as a mob boss demands a high price for its return and Lo and his pals in the PTU try to get back the firearm while keeping one step ahead of a second set of investigators who believe Lo is implicated in the death of a mobster.

Although ostensibly an action thriller, To also covers plenty of satirical ground as everyone is shown to be flirting with corruption. When the set-pieces come they are gloriously over-the-top, with To’s multiple perspectives making for great fun. Sound is also important and, although not universally successful, To frequently exploits silence to create claustrophobia.

The film dips drastically in between the action scenes, however, with the build ups frequently over-long and lacking tension. The tonal shifts aren’t as slick as in his later movies, either, with blackly comic moments failing to fuse properly with the more hard-boiled violence. Equally, where the shoot outs in some of To's later movies, such as Exiled, have the sort of polish many directors can only dream of, here the result more closely resembles a pop video than full-blown spectacle.

Despite lacking the gloss of his later work, however, this is still an enjoyable, high-energy romp that gives plenty of bang for your buck.

Reviewed on: 22 Jun 2007
Share this with others on...
PTU packshot
A cop's night spirals out of control when he loses his gun.
Amazon link

Director: Johnny To

Writer: Kin Yee Au, Nai-Hoi Yau

Starring: Lam Suet, Simon Yam, Maggie Siu, Ruby Wong, Ho-Yin Wong, Eddy Ko, Hoi-Pang Lo, Jerome Fung, Frank Michael Liu, Pou-Soi Cheang, Roderick Lam

Year: 2003

Runtime: 88 minutes

Country: Hong Kong


Search database:

If you like this, try:

Election 2