Multi-award-winning Hong Kong director Johnnie To’s 2003 immersive crime thriller film PTU– which stands for Police Tactical Unit- is being released this June on Blu-ray for the first time in the UK by Eureka Entertainment as part of The Masters of Cinema Series.
PTU has a very simple premise. The film follows a group of policemen over the course of one night as they search for Sergeant Lo’s missing police gun. Despite having a simple premise, a bit more actually does happen over the course of the night. After Sergeant Lo loses his gun, a suspenseful chain of events get set into motion as he finds himself trapped between two rival gangs on the brink of a bloodbath. Lo and the Police Tactical Unit (PTU) have to track down his gun, not only before a war breaks out between the gangs but the Vice Squad and Homicide Units are also embroiled in their own turf war and a lot goes down over the course of just this one night.
PTU is a sharp, atmospheric police crime film and at just 88 minutes long, it goes by in a flash. After Lo slips on a banana peel and loses his gun, everything begins to get set in motion with the gangs and the PTU and it becomes a really engaging film. The film was a hit with local critics in Hong Kong when it was first released, winning Best Picture at the 2004 Golden Bauhinia Awards.
PTU boasts outstanding cinematography with director of photography Cheng Siu-Keung managing to frame incredible shots with so many people in them but without it feeling overstuffed and every character’s presence is felt in that one shot. Through the noir-like cinematography, the police are almost hidden among the shadows, and they hold a mob-like sense as the police are contrasted with the mob creating menace from all areas in the film. The characters in the film loom over the audience as they frantically search for Lo’s gun.
Despite being less than 90 minutes long, PTU does feel a bit thin around the middle. It gets going very quickly and sets the scene really well but as it adds side-plots and more characters as the film develops, it feels a bit too slow at times. It’s almost as if it’s only building up to the film’s finale, and whilst the film’s conclusion is excellent, it spends just a fraction too long building up to it and waiting for it which could have gone by a bit quicker. However, when you do reach the climax and everything comes together, it feels like a very well-rounded film.
The Blu-ray special features include:
- Limited Edition O-Card Slipcase featuring new artwork by Grégory Sacré
- 1080p presentation on Blu-ray
- Cantonese audio (DTS-HD MA 5.1 and LPCM 2.0 options)
- Optional English dubbed audio
- Optional English Subtitles and English SDH
- Brand new feature length audio commentary by Asian film expert Frank Djeng (NY Asian Film Festival)
- Archival interview with director Johnnie To
- Archival interview with actor Simon Yam
- Archival interview with actress Maggie Siu
- A Collector’s Booklet featuring new writing by David West (NEO Magazine)
PTU is released on Blu-ray from Eureka Entertainment on June 21st.