This post was supposed to be written 7 days ago, it was a draft of The Killers review, few days later it morphed into the Ong Bak draft, the Oscars came and went, and seeing how The Departed got so much attention, i thought it fit to bring your attention to Hong Kong's absolute master-piece, the excellent Infernal Affairs.
This is the moment where no one, absolutely no one on earth could have done anything to make HK cinema less than any of its world counterparts.
Infernal Affairs (I want to be You : Chinese title) is a 2002 Hong Kong gangster thriller, an alternate Chinese title references "the lowest circle of hell" in Buddhism (more on that later)
the movie runs about 1:40 minutes.
tells the (now familiar) story of two men, each a mole in the other's organization:
The first part of the movie shows us Undercover Detective Chan Wing Yan's, and his counterpart, Brother Lau Kin Ming's slow progression through the ranks, rising from lowly gangster / cop (respectively) to full-fledged brother in HK triads / Internal Affairs investigator (respectively).
the first half of the movie spans about 10 years of both lives.
(for about an hour and a half -worth of film, you'd boggle at how the director can fit all this in. the remake ran longer covering a much less amount of time)
the story is basically a cat and mouse game between those two guys as they try to root out the other, while at the same time finding themselves growing increasingly more distant from their pasts.
this movie shines in which it does NOT present the triad mole as a bad guy, you genuinely feel for all characters throughout the movie.
Andy Lau is brilliant as a triad mole inside the Internal Affairs section, and Tony Leung is possibly in his best role so far, this time as a cop losing grip on "his" world.
you will NOT be goaded into the usual "Bad cop /Good criminal" crap that's floating around these days (think: any given Steven Segal movie)
These guys do what they have to do, stone cold. no regrets, no remorse. its their duty AND core belief.
The Cinematography is.. i can't rave enough about it: temples, steel-and-glass wonders, claustrophobic slums, warehouses, freeways, if you think HK is beautiful, you will love this movie, if you don't, you will after this movie.
This is obviously of the "Less is More" school of film-making, there is not one second that i felt was unnecessary or out of place. one look speaks volumes.
this movie was successful and it spawned 2 sequels (prequels?!) telling more about the origins and missing history of the protagonists. sadly i'm yet to see them. (and i dont think i will. i dont want to ruin the original's experience)
i can't stress this enough: if you thought The Departed was good, and think you know your movies, you ABSOLUTELY DEFINITELY HAVE to watch this: i warn you though: the remake is reportedly based on a mish-mash of all THREE Infernal Affairs movies, so don't whine about how there are scenes missing etc.
i can't really be bothered to snapshot the DivX i have of this, so instead i'll leave you with two linked pics. bleurgh.
the Chinese title is referenced again in the end, and believe me, like it or not, you will find yourself nodding to its punch line.
A Dumb-ass at the Academy Awards erringly stated to everyone this was a Japanese film. I respected Martin Scorsese for correcting this in his acceptance speech.
10/10. and then some.
everything about this movie is perfect. nothing is overdone or underdone. much more convincing than the remake. and i'm not being biased. i really really like The Departed.