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“Engaging, intense and realistic... carefully crafted scenes and excellent group performances combine edge-of-your-seat action with genuine empathy and even a few laughs” — Winnie Cheung, HK MAGAZINE
Director: Law Wing-Cheong
Screenplay: Yau Nai-Hoi, Au Kin-Yee
Cast: Simon Yam, Maggie Siu, Lam Suet, Ben Wong
Producers: Johnnie To
Distributor: Universe Entertainment
Tension is crackling among the officers of Hong Kong’s Tactical Unit. Two teams—one led by the ethically loose Sergeant Sam (Simon Yam), the other by the stiff, strict Sergeant May (Maggie Siu)—clash over affronts real and imagined, particularly the preference the superior officer, Ho (Ben Wong), shows May over the veteran policeman Sam. The teams are to be disbanded, and after a fistfight breaks out at an off-duty celebration, Ho warns all of them to keep it together for what little time remains. He’s not all that pleased with his driver, either—the overweight, work-shirking cop Fat Lo (Lam Suet) is a case study in irresponsibility. Every cop involved, however, will be sorely tested—and their true natures revealed—when both teams join a manhunt far up in the rugged, rarely visited corners of the mountains over Hong Kong, in pursuit of a dangerous, disciplined gang of bank robbers.
Maverick Hong Kong filmmaker Johnnie To (BREAKING NEWS, ELECTION and so many more) has surrendered the director’s chair for the TACTICAL UNIT series of films spun off from his excellent 2003 effort PTU, merely producing the movies, but watching COMRADES IN ARMS, one can see his fingerprints all over the final product. A number of his regular actors—including the veteran talent and star of PTU, Simon Yam, who’s truly blossomed into one of Hong Kong’s best in recent years, and of course the endlessly entertaining Lam Suet—appear in the TACTICAL UNIT films, and moreover, COMRADES IN ARMS showcases To’s nuanced blend of gritty, no-nonsense crime-flick tropes and empathic, even playful insight into the soft spots of human nature. Call it hard-boiled poetry. The opening instance of two squads chasing the same burglar illustrates this penchant perfectly, and it’s hardly the last of the startling and at times mildly absurdist To-style twists to this tale—which at the same time, doesn’t cut corners in the realms of gripping suspense and bristling action.