PTU File - Death Trap (2005) / Action-Thriller
MPAA Rated: Not rated, but probably PG-13 for violence and some language
Running Time: 95 min.
Cast: Kristy Yang, Anya, Michael Wong, Terence Yin, Andrew Lin, EO2 (Eddie Pang, Osman Hung, Otto Wong)
Director: Tony Leung
Screenplay: Tony Leung
PTU File - Death Trap starts at the end, with a group of people startled to find a quartet of robbers breaking up their meeting in a high-rise building. Then the film flashes back to the beginning of that day, showing how the events transpired to cause all of these random people to converge in that one spot where their lives would change forever. There are the robbers, who are actually aspiring musicians who turn to crime in order to fund a self-produced album. There are crime lords, undercover cops, and innocent people in the mix, each having their own agenda, and all of them connected by fate. And, of course, there is the PTU, the Police Tactical Unit, called in to try to keep all of them from coming to harm.
A very sloppily made b-movie action vehicle, PTU File - Death Trap delivers on action in the end, but it is a long time getting there, and definitely not worth the trip. I hope I never need protection in Hong Kong, because the PTU seem to be one of the most inept law enforcement divisions around, if this film is any indication. Four first-time robbers can elude them at every turn, and whenever they are spotted, it is mostly due to some fluke, followed by even more shoddy detective work.
Here is a case where too much investment is made in character development, as we are shown the private lives of those who would be the villains, heroes, and innocent bystanders. We come to see marriages in a state of dissolution, flirtations, career aspirations, and other developments, and all of it is supposed to make the end riveting. It doesn't really work out that way, as nearly all of the little side stories do almost nothing to push forward the plot, and by the time of the hostage situation, we still couldn't care less about any of these very poorly defined characters.
Tony Leung writes, and produces, with poor results in every department. The film texture seems very cheaply made, and there is definitely something wrong with the sound, which sometimes is overwhelmed with hiss or noise artifacts. The sound effects are quite poor, with some sound effects not accurately represented, and on occasion, not at all. With so many different storylines, PTU File feels like 4 or 5 separate movies thrown together, only tying them in near the end, with no real thematic need to do so. The curious dialogue is also strange, with characters alternately talking in English or Cantonese with no rhyme or reason, and the wooden delivery sure doesn't help.
Leung seems to write and direct several movies per year, which should give you some indication of how much total time was spent in the development of this sloppy throwaway. Unless you desperately need to see any movie with Kristy Yang (The Storm Riders, Legend of Hero) or Anya (Naked Weapon, Vampire Hunters), there's very little here to recommend. Stick this one in the "PU File".
©2005 Vince Leo