There have been some excellent cops and robbers match-ups in the crime thriller genre in recent years, from Al Pacino and Robert De Niro (in Michael Mann's Heat) to John Travlota and Nicolas Cage (in John woo's Face/Off). Now it's the turn of Andy Lau and Tony Leung. "Who?", I hear you ask. Well, almost unknown outside of their native Hong Kong, Andy Lau and Tony Leung are the equivalents of Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio in terms of their stature and recognition in the Hong Kong film industry.
Infernal Affairs follows the story of Yan (Leung) and Ming (Lau); fellow cadets in the Hong Kong police force. But this is not your usual good-cop, bad-cop routine. Yan is thrown out of training college in disgrace but offered a reprise as an undercover mole by Superintendent Wong (wong), to infiltrate the triad gang led by Sam (Tsang). Ming, on the other hand, was placed into the police training programme as an undercover mole by Sam, to help sabotage the missions on his cocaine dealings. Both rise through the ranks, and when the police suspect a mole in their midst, it is Ming who is allocated into the Internal Affairs bureau to find the culprit, and who subsequently carries out a character assassination on Superintendent Wong.
Supported competently by an all-star cast from the world of Hong Kong Cinema, both Lau and Leung put in excellent performances, immersing themselves in their respective lifestyles and cultures with such gritty realism that it soon becomes a crisis of identity. Living secretive lives, each man endures his own personal hell. Yan yearns to regain his normal, moral life, while the once-scandalous Ming aches to relinquish this now forced role of informant and become a true police officer.
Hong Kong cinema has come along way since the low-on-plot, high-on-action fightfests from Bruce Lee, and the low-on-feasible plot, high-on-slapstick-action fightfests from Jackie Chan. Infernal Affairs is a gripping and thoroughly entertaining thriller, daring to challenge the creativity and slick production values of the US. In addition to receiving excellent reviews, the film also won numerous awards. At the 22nd Annual Hong Kong Film Awards, Infernal Affairs brought home multiple awards including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, Best Screenplay, Best Editing and Best Original Song - sung of course by Andy Lau and Tony Leung!
Infernal Affairs was originally censored by the Chinese authorities, who were unhappy with the emotionally powerful ending, but this has did not deter the producers from making two follow-up films. This film has also made noises in the US, where Brad Pitt has bought the English-language remake rights, and is expected to star, having lined up Martin Scorsese to direct. Hopefully though, Hollywood will stick to the original plot and not carry out an act of celluloid crime like they did with The Ring.
One of the most popular and successful films in recent Hong Kong cinema history finally makes its way to the UK and to Warwick Student Cinema - do not miss this excellent film!
Screenings of this film:
|2003/2004 Summer Term – (35mm)|
|2007/2008 Autumn Term – (35mm)|