While pursuing a goo wak jai
who keyed his car, the rather dense Sgt. Lo Sa (Lam Suet) of the Anti-Crime
Division wanders into a trap and his gun is stolen. Sgt. Mike Ho (Simon Yam
Tat-wah) of the Police Tactical Unit decides to try and help Lo (who is up
for a promotion) find the weapon before dawn; if it is not recovered by that
time, a report will have to be filed. Lo knows that the culprits work for
a gang leader called Ponytail, who was assassinated right around the same
time that his boys stole the sergeant's piece. Meanwhile, to Lo's chagrin,
CID has been put in charge of the Ponytail investigation and unit leader Inspector
Leigh Cheung (Ruby Wong Cheuk-ling) takes fast note of the bumbling cop's
highly suspicious actions. A gang leader tries to negotiate the surrender
of a hood (who claims he is actually innocent of the killing but fears for
his life) and Lo sees this as a way to strike a deal and retrieve his gun.
However, one of his typically careless mistakes just may scotch the deal and
lead to bloodshed.
The latest crime thriller from producer/director Johnny To Kei-fung (or Johnnie
To, as he is usually billed nowadays) takes place entirely over the course
of one evening, alternating between interconnected groups of characters. Central
to the story is the fact that the various police units will not raise a finger
to help one another, despite all having the same responsibilities. There is
even a conflict within PTU, as Mike and two compatriots see the necessity
in bending the rules to get results, while others (notably a second team,
headed up by Maggie Siu Mei-kei) rigidly adhere to them. Long, lyrical takes
allow the actors to communicate volumes while saying little, and To gives
us a metropolitan backdrop quite unlike any other. HK crime thrillers routinely
unfold at night on the streets but there is usually a steady stream of automobile
and foot traffic. Here, we are presented with a quiet, virtually empty city
(represented via excellent, unfamiliar locations) where the silence is broken
only by footsteps, occasional conversation, mobile phones, and car alarms
(the latter figure into the finale, a wonderfully planned and staged combination
of happenstance and deus ex machina) . These sequences establish mood
in such a simple and subtle fashion, they affect the viewer while often centering
around nothing more than minor events. Aside
from a darkly humorous moment born out of violence and a nicely timed gag
about the prevalence of those damn phones, this is a very stoic piece and
the actors perform accordingly, even in the face of absurdity. It is a balancing
act that the best Milkyway thrillers handle so adeptly, and this highly satisfying
production represents a welcome return to form for both the company and a
talented filmmaker who really seemed to be losing his way in recent years.
Raymond Wong Ho-yin, Wong Tin-lam and Eddy Ko Hung also appear.
Cover art courtesy Mei Ah.
|Mei Ah #DVD-593 (Hong Kong
Sync Sound Cantonese (Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS-ES) and
Dubbed Mandarin (Dolby Digital 5.1) Language Tracks
Optional English Subtitles in English and Chinese (Traditional
6 Chapters Illustrated in the Menu With Clips
Enhanced for 16:9 Displays
Coded for ALL Regions
Contains moderate (but bloody) violence, interrogation
torture, and mild language
DVD menu courtesy
BOARD RATINGS AND CONSUMER ADVICE
Hong Kong: IIB
Cheng Siu-keung's excellent scope photography comes
across very well in this slick transfer. The entire film takes place at night
and the interiors also tend to be dimly lit; detail is very good under both
conditions. Blacks are solid, hues are rich, and the element is spotless.
The audio is an accomplished mixture of layered atmospherics and natural,
immediate sounding dialogue and music, and the track comes across well here
(DTS-ES is also included for the Cantonese version). Extras consist of an
untranslated 17 minute interview section, featuring comments from To and Yam,
a bilingual Data Bank and Synopsis, a squeezed trailer, and an additional
trailer for the digital video production 20/30 DICTIONARY located in the Best
Buy section. The DVD comes packaged in an outer sleeve and represents a definite
step up in quality for Mei Ah. Just one complaint: the animated menus are
ugly and impossible to skip through.
PTU is available
at Poker Industries.
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