PTU follows a group of police officers patrolling the city of Hong Kong who are asked for help by another officer, Lo Sa (Lam Suet), who lost his gun in the area during a fight with a street gang. Lo Sa is hesitant to report the loss to HQ as he is worried that it will affect his upcoming promotion.
I really don’t know what to make of PTU. It’s not at all the movie I was expecting (having seen Heroic Trio last month, I thought someone would have superpowers here) but at the same time it didn’t defy my expectations, plowing along without any real direction. PTU is almost farcical at times; yet it’s so straight-laced as to make me wonder whether the silliness is by design, or whether this is intended to be a straight procedural drama whose seriousness has been lost in translation.
When a cop slips on a banana peel, it’s hard to take him seriously.
When he does it more than once, I have to take the second fall as a “shame on me” moment. And yet, to view that cop as incompetent brings everyone else’s competence into question too, since they take him seriously to the point of taking his advice.
PTU‘s slow, deliberate pace might have fit well with a different police drama, but it quickly became a problem here by giving me time to raise these questions of competence for every character involved. And they all failed the test. A more action-oriented film may have kept me too busy to get bogged down in the details but, with PTU having such a slow pace, none of the characters looked good in the end. I couldn’t invest in any of them and couldn’t connect with PTU as a result.
Thursday, December 21, 9:30 PM, TIFF Bell Lightbox
This film is part of TIFF Cinematheque’s Johnnie To: Expect the Unexpected series running from October 26th to December 28th
PTU is not one of my favorite Johnnie To films. I saw it at a film fest a while back, and I keep forgetting that I saw it. Its tone is all over the map and didn’t really click with me. While films like Exiled, the two Election films, and Drug War have really stuck with me, PTU doesn’t stand on that same level. I’m in a similar boat as you on this one.
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