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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 23.26%
Average: 16.28%
Pretty Bad: 0%
Total Crap: 0%

3 reviews, 25 user ratings

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Infernal Affairs
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by Jay Seaver

"A delightfully twisty crime movie based on a simple premise."
5 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2004 BOSTON FANTASTIC FILM FESTIVAL: I'll admit it - the first time I heard the name "Infernal Affairs", I thought it was going to be a movie about demons possessing cops or something like that. I did know better by the time it played at the Boston Fantastic Film Festival - it's a crime movie, and one of the best you'll have a chance to see.

The concept is deliciously simple - in 1992, an up-and-coming crime boss has several of the younger members of his gang with clean records enroll in the police academy. At the same time, one of the more promising students at the academy is apparently tossed out, but is in fact being sent undercover with the triads; only two people know about this mission. Flash-forward ten years, and now Lau (Andy Lau) is a rising star in the Hong Kong vice squad, and Yan (Tony Leung) is burning out as a triad soldier, still undercover even though the original mission was to be for three years. As luck would have it, Lau is working under SP Wong (Anthony Wong), the man who sent Yan undercover, while Yan is the right-hand man of Sam (Eric Tsang), the gangster who sent Lau to the police academy.

Things come to a head when, during a meeting with Sam's Thai suppliers that Wong has targeted for a bust, both sides are able to anticipate the others' moves too quickly. Both Sam and Wong realize they've got a mole in their teams, and they know that the other guy knows. So it's a race, and both moles will be pressed into service to help find the identity of their opposite number.

Infernal Affairs isn't John Woo flashy, it's not filled with a whole lot of crazy gun or martial arts battles, and though it gets you inside the characters' heads, it never loses sight of its purpose: To create a desperate need to know what's going to happen next. The screenplay is a suspense machine as four very capable opponents square off, with every new discovery bringing a plot twist that sends it off in a new direction. It's like watching a game of chess where both sides can move at the same time.

This is a sure-handed movie, with good performances turned in by all the principal actors, along with likable supporting turns by Kelly Chen as a psychiatrist Yan becomes smitten with and Sammi Cheng as Lau's girlfriend, a novelist writing a story about a man with multiple personalities. The script by Felix Chong and Siu Fai Mak is pretty tight (though you might wonder why a man in a compromised unit would be promoted to Internal Affairs), and the direction by Siu and Wai Keung Lau is up to the same standard. The movie zips forward relentlessly, barely even slowing down for that Hong Kong movie tradition, the flashback-laden music video.

Infernal Affairs is, quite simply, a fantastic crime drama, one of the best in years. Miramax is allegedly giving it a theatrical release, as they try to figure out how to get revenue from the original without inviting too many comparisons when they release a Martin Scorcese/Matt Damon/Leonardo DiCaprio remake in a couple years. If you get the chance to see it, pounce.

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originally posted: 10/17/04 03:32:05
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Starz Denver Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Starz Denver Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Boston Fantastic Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Boston Fantastic Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2012 New York Asian Film Festival For more in the 2012 New York Asian Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

2/05/11 Josie Cotton is a goddess A tense thriller. A little confusing at times, but well worth figuring out 5 stars
6/27/10 Ken More cleverly crafted then the sloppy American remake. More intruging characters too. 5 stars
1/09/10 Ben C Great movie - tight thriller 5 stars
10/04/09 Stuart Vastly Superior to the likes of the Departed. 5 stars
3/04/09 Ryu Far more realistic than the American remake. Gets the job done better. 5 stars
8/24/08 David This is the movie the Departed wished it could had been. 5 stars
3/13/08 ako Best Movie By Dream Team, Great. 5 stars
6/14/07 HT The original deals more with the psychological aspects, which provides more dept 5 stars
5/14/07 fools♫gold About as overrated as "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind." 4 stars
4/30/07 Bob A great film. The Departed doesn't even compare. 5 stars
3/25/07 Charles Tatum This has all the makings of a Martin Scorsese film! 4 stars
2/14/07 Jim This movie is way better than that dreadful American remake 5 stars
12/05/06 Joel What the hell is "The Departed"? This is the one and only! 5 stars
11/19/06 WH THIS MOVIE IS GODLIKE~! =D 5 stars
11/02/06 Andy Loved this one more than "Departed." 5 stars
10/16/06 Logan The brilliant and stylish original never disappoints. 5 stars
10/03/06 Terry blows away the "The Departed" anyday. Original forever! 5 stars
11/26/05 CONSTANTINE AWESOME, ONE OF THE BEST THRILLERS I'VE SEEN IN A WHILE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
8/15/05 Kelly Chen I have never seen such a great film! 5 stars
5/24/05 susee not great story but damn stylish 5 stars
5/18/05 K. Sear Enjoyable but not brilliant. 4 stars
1/17/05 Roy Smith Again Not quite unique but still well done. 4 stars
11/09/04 Alaric L Great story, great acting & great editing makes this a Great Movie!!! 5 stars
10/24/04 MG Lau and Leung at their best!!! 5 stars
9/26/04 KD Has really tense moments, but second half is a letdown 3 stars
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  24-Sep-2004 (R)
  DVD: 07-Dec-2004



Directed by
  Andrew Lau
  Alan Mak

Written by
  Alan Mak
  Felix Chong

  Tony Leung
  Andy Lau
  Anthony Wong
  Eric Tsang
  Chapman To
  La Ka Tung

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