Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Fantasia 2009 - Tactical Unit: Comrades in Arms

All of the three films I've seen so far at the Fantasia Film Festival, Tactical Unit: Comrades in Arms is the least good. Obviously, many fans of the Canadian TV series Flashpoint will naturally feel attracted by this film. However, while the film's idea looked good on paper, it's badly translated to the big screen. In fact, the movie starts well, clumsily continues in the middle and ends in a very passable - if not cheesy - way.

Sam (Simon Yam) and May (Maggie Siu) are two squad leaders working at the same police precinct. Moreover, both squad really hate each other meaning that they always compete to see which squad will do things right or proceed to an arrest, for instance. Besides, Sam hates May even more when she got promoted to Station Sergeant. However, as their squads must work together in an operation, which consists in arresting a group of robbers before they make it to mainland China, Sam and May must learn how to put their difference aside.

When the film starts rolling, it's easy to have high hopes for it given that the post-Oscar season doesn't fully satisfy many cinephile's appetite. In fact, by clearly displaying through two scenes the division between two squads from the same police station, the film clearly sets the tone. Furthermore, one wonders how the two sqads will get over the chasm that separate them given that they must work together in one last operation.

However, as Tactical Unit: Comrades in Arms progresses, its pace becomes its worst enemy. No, we're not talking about the screenplay's slow and realistic deconstruction about the police operation in the mountains. By having two sub-plots related to the operation (some squad members running after an insane man and a crazy stabber), Tactical Unit: Comrades in Arms unfortunately deviates - albeit for a few time - from its goal. Sure, the director wanted to show how camaraderie between antagonizing policemen gets developed under tough circumstances. This goes without saying that the search for the robbers could have been used for this purpose.

Finally, for what it's worth, Tactical Unit: Comrades in Arms could certainly have been a better film had it not been fooling around with its script. Besides, even though we can feel their effort, the actors - who all do a good job - don't manage to save the films. It's just to bad, because the potential was there.

Rating: 2.5/5

Origin:Hong Kong (2009)
Length:91 minutes
Genre:Crime drama
Screenplay:Yau Nai-Hoi and Au Kin-Yee
Director:Law Chin-Yeong
Starring:Simon Yam, Maggie Siu, Lam Suet and Wong Chi-Yin

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