Although Hollywood churns out a new cop thriller just about every other week, we’ve forgotten how to make true gangster films, a genre we consider quintessentially American to the point where we feel we no longer have to work at it. So, let’s be honest, movies come and go. You watch it, you like it, you forget it. Then, once in a blue moon, you experience a masterpiece of cinematic glory. A film so worthy of all the praise and massive hype that you sit and think to yourself, “Whoa…”! Infernal Affairs is one of those films for me.
Before graduating the police academy, Yan is sent by his official to infiltrate the triads. Sam, his triad boss, sent him to join the academy to become an officer. With tips from Sam against their triad rivals, Ming steadily becomes one of Hong Kong’s elite. A mega face-off ensues. There’s something quite unique about Infernal Affairs. But even though many of our cop thrillers feature gangsters of one sort or another, so many of these pictures clump together into a generically dull ball. It’s gotten to the point where we need Hong Kong to remind America who it is. Felix Chong and Siu Fai Mak wrote this incredible story of and undercover cop in the mob, and an undercover mobster on the police force (Andy Lau). There’s no phony duality setup — no brothers-under-the-skin crapola — in Infernal Affairs. Although both Chan and Lau are cops, they’re distinct versions of very different things, and the movie never lets us forget it.
The most talented actors in Hong Kong join forces to conjure up this intense high profile police drama. Every frame saturated by quality. Every scene loaded with intensity. Martin Scorsese took it upon himself to remake this movie for domestic audiences with ‘The Departed’ which was very good in its own right. Similar to the Departed, every piece of the puzzle is extremely important and I have to hand it to Andrew Lau for signing the top names in the business to become a part of his masterpiece. Infernal Affairs is an HK enthusiasts’ dream. The film is overflowing with star-studded appeal right down to its cameo stars.
On top of this, the film possesses a patience rarely seen in Hong Kong films. It seems to be in no rush to amaze or dazzle us, instead it puts all its focus on slowly building momentum. Infernal Affairs works as both a piece of entertainment and a solid genre exercise. But like the best of its kind, there’s enough going on beneath the surface to stay with you. What starts off with two tragic heroes vying for respect in their world ends in a showdown of two willing survivors battling not for supremacy, but for adequacy and an identity. If you’ve seen the Departed, you’ll love this movie, if you haven’t, then you’re in for an even bigger treat. Don’t miss this movie.