I forgot about this piece as I scrambled to catch up on assignments after returning from Vancouver. Andrew Lau and Alan Mak’s Infernal Affairs played on Turner Classic Movies earlier in October and I wrote an essay for the website.
Infernal Affairs, a 2002 gangster film from the directing team of Andrew Lau (aka Lau Wai-keung) and Alan Mak, was less a return to form than a new direction: an ingeniously scripted tale of cop and gangsters featuring the top talent of the Hong Kong film industry and directed with a dramatic intensity and gritty realism that had been absent from most recent Hong Kong crime films. It became the top box-office hit of the year, swept the Hong Kong Film Awards, spawned sequels and prequels, and was remade in the U.S. — by no less a director than Martin Scorsese — as The Departed (2006), relocated from the Hong Kong Triads to the mean streets and Irish mobs of Boston. The change of culture and locale aside, it’s a faithful adaptation of the most influential Hong Kong crime drama since John Woo made The Killer (1989) and Hard Boiled (1992). In fact, the script by Alan Mak and Felix Chong recalls the premise of Hard Boiled, with its deep-cover officer so far into the mob that he’s drowning under the pressure, minus the explosive violence but with one brilliant twist: the crooks have their own deep-cover mole in the ranks of the police.
Read the complete piece here. If you missed it on TCM, you can always see it on DVD.