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This movie has been regarded as the cream of Hong Kong gangster and cop
movie. And has won 22 awards. But we all know awards don't mean a thing
sometimes. The God Father of America cinema "Martin Scorsese" himself
is making a American version of the movie, titled: Departed. I'm
somewhat happy to see that this movie is being recognized and
acknowledged by a true master, but distraught to the possibility of
A little history of Hong Kong film industry, being in somewhat government free state for over 100 years, Hong Kong movie industry proliferated to the state of hysteria. On one hand, everything goes as long as people get what they want for 2 hours worth. On the other hand, lack of political drama has afforded the gangster and cop drama to truly grow and mature.
Now back to the movie itself. 3 years ago, when I was still a poor student, I was loitering in the local Chinese video store as usual, looking for something exciting. The owner handed me a VHS copy of this movie, he personally recommended it and said it's new and unique. So I went home and watched it immediately. And then I said in my then dark and dingy apartment for 30 minutes, in utter silence.
There was no plot twist, and no surprise ending, no Mr. M Night's heavy handed gimmicks and Hollywood's camera tricks. But from the beginning to the end, for full 2 hours, you can cut the tension with a knife. In the end, you still don't want it to end. The story goes on in your mind, questions, bits and pieces start to put together, characters start to take shape even after the movie ended.
In my entire life, I've never seen a movie that there isn't a single excessive frame, until I saw this movie. It has forever changed my expectation on crime drama.
The story is genius and simple enough. A mole in police department working against an undercover cop in drug trafficking mafia. They don't know each other's identity, so it is like a invisible tug war between the two competing against each other's wits. I won't reveal too much of it even though like I said, there's no plot twist.
It's a fairly popular movie that has generated huge buzz when it came out, and since been talked, compared and still highly regarded as unsurpassed by countless fans worldwide. It has an all star cast in Hong Kong cinema, and of course, the screenplay, the acting, the editing, the camera work and overall directing is flawless judging by all standards.
If you are adventurous enough to try even one Hong Kong movie, try this one.
Most western viewers will only know the Asian crime scene from the
bleak and lyrical canvas of Takeshi Kitano's work. Here we get
something that at first seems far more westernized and very close to
the work of one Michael Mann. Okay, enough allusions: yes "Heat" comes
heavily to mind at first. but this is no simple "Heat" in Hong Kong.
This a splicing of everything Asians do best in a moody, stylish
tension-based thriller. From the beautiful cinematography(reminiscent
of Wong Kar-Way's films)- step forward visual consultant Christopher
Doyle! - and music to the graceful ying-yang undertones (mirror-images
are a key theme), the film's most heroic achievement lies in its leads
and in the bold ending.
Hearing that this is being considered for a remake stateside comes as no big surprise, but how Matt Damon and Leonardo DiCaprio could possibly compete against Andy Lau and Tony Leung evokes cynicism at best. Both leads are perfect. Lau's cold calculating intellect against Leung's anguished and tormented heart, complimentary opposites. There aren't enough words to commend this fresh, invigorating film with...
This movie is well-made, stylish and extremely entertaining. However, as stated by the review from a Hong Kong viewer, there is also depth and subtlety rarely found in action/thrillers. It is this depth that makes this movie brilliant. The depth of this movie is best served by the understated yet deeply moving performances of the main characters. Viewers are allowed into the inner changes of these characters and before long, the viewers begin to care about them, be it the "good guy" (Yan) or the "bad guy" (Ming). The rest of cast successfully relate the complicated and exciting plot to the viewers, and all the supporting performances are almost flawless, perhaps with the exception of the female psychologist who seems sadly one-dimensional. I grew up in Hong Kong but has since lived most of my life in Canada. With this duo-cultural background, I have mixed feelings about the Hollywood remaking of this movie. On the one hand, I am happy for the Hollywood recognition of this great movie by remaking it. On the other hand, I would hate to see how badly sabotaged the end result would be. Some things just do not translate. As a minimum, I hope the great director Scorcese will make good use of the major plot line and generate a haute thriller and with the excellent cast, develop some in-depth characterization. The Chinese philosophy and the spirit of the original film is better left undisturbed.
I looked over a squad of reviews and was sad not to see anyone writing
from Hong Kong. So I am putting in my piece.
Hong Kong movies have changed a lot in the last decade and when Infernal Affairs came out it was a real change. I noted 'Golden Chicken' was mentioned earlier, and that sums up many of the lame comedies that have recently been churned out. However the comedy is a large part of Hong Kong cinema, as is the gangster genre.
Infernal Affairs breaks with the comedy, keeps the gangsters (lau being a first class clean cut one - whilst Leung acts a remarkable strained police officer) and adds clever and intelligent tension. The acting is first class, as is the mood that truly captures the zeitgeist.
This movie is about the two characters and their similarities and moral obstacles. It also has something subtle to say.
This film was huge news in Hong Kong and the mainland. It is an important Hong Kong film.
The US remake will be more clichéd than you can imagine. This film will translate, it is not that original, no. But it has substance and mood that is valuable.
As cadets, Lau and Chan both show promise as police officers. However,
is removed from the training and send to be a long-term undercover in
gang. However, unbeknownst to the police, Lau is also a long-term mole
is feeding information back to Sam. When Sam and police chief SP Wong
have their operations scuppered, each realises the other has a mole and
out to uncover each. With each other's lives at risk, Lau and Chan must
the first to uncover the other.
I decided to see this after hearing good things about it but I was conscious that often foreign films can be given more leniency than Western films doing the same thing. After a slightly confusing opening few moments as characters settle down (not helped by using completely different actors for characters at late teens and late 20's - do people change that much?) the film immediately becomes gripping. The plot may well have the occasional hole and have unnecessary personal details (Lau's girlfriend and Chan's ex weren't really needed) but the central story is well written and told with such urgency that it is hard not to be totally engaged.
The film doesn't have many massive shoot outs or action scenes but it has a pretty consistent sense of tension that is enjoyable right up to a typical but impacting ending. The direction is stylish and only occasionally overuses the slow-mo jump cuts. It may owe more to American cinema than that of the Orient but it is still a very good film and I hope the inevitable remake will be as good.
The cast don't need to do that much apart from look intense and portray the tension of the story in a realistic fashion - something that they do well. At times the lead two actors are pushed out of this by the personal asides but they happily keep things on track. Both Lau and Leung play it very well - it never came down to good guy/bad guy and the audience was pretty well split. Wong is a solid officer while Tsang is good as Sam. Chen and Cheng may not have a great deal to do apart from slowing the film but they both look good doing it.
Overall this is a solidly enjoyable cop thriller, regardless of what country it comes from. It will eventually be remade I imagine and when it is I hope that it manages to retain it's consistent sense of tension, double-edged characters and a real tight hold on it's audience just as this did here.
A seriously refreshing police thriller that cranks up the tension to the
max. There's no overblown gunplay or buddy cop crap here, this baby is
as a drum and will have your nails down to the quick. Superb performances,
tight script and tense direction make this a winner in every department.
Pick it up if you can, it's fantastic.
This movie should be compared to movie like Heat, even when the
storyline are not the same. Movies like Hardboiled and A Better
Tomorrow are predominately action-based, whereas this movie is more
dramatic and emotionally-driven.
The main attraction is the mole hunts but it would not be as brilliantly done if not for the fireworks between the major characters.
The title from the explanation in the intro means "Endless Purgatory Road". This philosophy, to me, really made this movie more thoughtful. The two central characters both had to walk their road, in life and in their minds for a long time. Both had no choice but to keep walking. As they cross path, they were forced to play the game of cat and mouse by their superiors. While it is not certain who's the cat and who's the mouse, one thing is certain - the loser will die.
While there are four main characters, they are all males. This should be bad for any movie but I think this is one of the exception to the rule. The emotions and tension between the four were well-scripted and brilliantly played. It is no surprised each had at least one best actor awards in the Hong Kong industry. The sequels(2 prequels) will delve deeper into it.
Plotwise - it is hard to see any holes.
Seen it around six times, a lot for a drama.
I think you should ask yourself after the movie, "what would I do if I am in the same situation?". Right and wrong is harder to separate.
I'm late in discovering the Hong Kong crime thriller genre so I can
only compare "Infernal Affairs (Mou gaan dou))" to its Hollywood
compatriots. It grippingly is the equal of such intense examinations of
the anguish of undercover cops as "Donnie Brascoe" or dirty cops such
as "Narc" or "Training Day."
Key is the dynamic opposite pairing of two leonine, charismatic actors, Tony Leung Chiu Wai, the self-sacrificing heart throb from "Hero (Ying xiong)" and the languid lover from "In the Mood for Love (Fa yeung nin wa)" here as an antsy, anguished too long undercover cop versus Andy Lau as his crisply efficient, ambitious counterpart.
The plot, propelled as well by the music, unpredictably twists and takes hairpin turns from the beginning so that even with helpful flashbacks it's a thrilling roller coaster ride to try to follow the constantly changing loyalties, manipulations, deals and revelations, not unlike the TV series "The Wire."
Regardless, you get that the real battle is for the characters' souls as much as their lives and you hold your breath to the last surprising minute. The initial motivations for how the men came to be at this crossroads will doubtless be explored in the prequel and sequel that haven't been released in the U.S. yet.
The women are just the girlfriends, but they do have separate lives, jobs and choices that impact the men in their lives.
With noted cinematographer Christopher Doyle is listed as a "visual consultant" in the credits, the great bulk of the film takes place at night, like a comparable chase film "Collateral," so it was unfortunate that the print I saw was not pristine.
It was also annoying that the subtitles were white on white illegible and that ideograms that are shown in the scene are not translated, even when the camera rests on them for a length of time that makes one assume something significant is written there.
- Infernal Affairs: 9/10
A brilliant cop movie out of Hong Kong, with a sublime plot and great acting by the two leads Andy Lau and Tony Leung (an indescribably great actor). An amazing concept with Lau as an undercover Triad member in the police force and Leung as an undercover cop in the Triad... which leads to many interesting situations. Great stuff, and the DVD even has the alternative ending (which isn't nearly as good as the main one).
A deceptively simple idea lies at the heart of this complex thriller: the Hong Kong police and a triad gang both have an informer in each other's organisation: whoever's man picks the enemies' spy first wins the game for his side. Add to that the customary double-agent-doesn't-know-which-side-he-is-on-anymore subplot (doubled, of course), and you have plenty of ingredients for a plot, although it's to the movie's credit that although a little stylised, it never seems false or contrived. Fast-paced and bold, with a generous score, it never insults the viewer's intelligence either, and features just the right level of moral ambiguity. At one level, it's just another thriller, and there's little in the way of wider political or social subtext; but on the other hand, it's a textbook lesson in the art of making this sort of film.
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