Published Nov 01, 2004Finally, the most exciting thriller to recently come out of Asia reaches North American shores. Infernal Affairs is a cat-and-mouse drama between a mole infiltrating the Hong Kong police department and an undercover cop planted inside the Triads. The story is simple: find out who the mole is and who the cop is before the other side does.
Tony Leung (In The Mood For Love) plays Chan, a cop who's worked inside the Triads long enough to work directly for boss Sam (comedy actor Eric Tsang in a surprising turn). However, only Superintendent Wong (Anthony Wong) and a computer file locked behind a password know his true identity. Similarly, Andy Lau (House of Flying Daggers), as gangster Lau Kin Ming, has infiltrated the police force so seamlessly that he now works for the organised crime squad. Both Chan and Lau report to Triad boss Sam and SP Wong, and both suffer an identity crisis: am I one of the good guys or a villain?
Infernal Affairs burns with tension from the first frame. Co-directors Wai Keung Lau and Siu Fai Mak avoid the bloody overkill of typical Hong Kong gangster flicks. Instead they milk scenes for suspense and paranoia, often inter-cutting from mole to mole until the action sequences explode with an adrenaline jolt. The editing is sharp, but not flashy; the cinematography is slick yet gritty, capturing cosmopolitan Hong Kong, from panoramic rooftop shots and glass reflections in cool green and noir shadows. Supporting players Wong and Tsang offer convincing father figures to leads Lau and Leung, who perform at the top of their game. Leung especially plays the tortured undercover cop with such conviction that you wonder if he'll crack.
Hong Kong has already produced two sequels since Infernal Affairs' 2002 Asian release, while Scorsese is reportedly directing the American remake. However, don't wait for his version, see this one. (Alliance Atlantis)