In this prequel to Mou gaan dou (2002), Chan Wing Yan has just become an undercover cop in the triads while Lau Kin Ming joins the police force. Both the triads and the police find an enemy in a rival crime boss.
Anthony Chau-Sang Wong
Chan Wing Yan, a young police officer, has been sent undercover as a mole in the local mafia. Lau Kin Ming, a young mafia member, infiltrates the police force. Years later, their older counterparts, Chen Wing Yan and Inspector Lau Kin Ming, respectively, race against time to expose the mole within their midst. Written by
I'm late in discovering the Hong Kong crime thriller genre so I can only compare "Infernal Affairs (Mou gaan dou))" to its Hollywood compatriots. It grippingly is the equal of such intense examinations of the anguish of undercover cops as "Donnie Brascoe" or dirty cops such as "Narc" or "Training Day."
Key is the dynamic opposite pairing of two leonine, charismatic actors, Tony Leung Chiu Wai, the self-sacrificing heart throb from "Hero (Ying xiong)" and the languid lover from "In the Mood for Love (Fa yeung nin wa)" here as an antsy, anguished too long undercover cop versus Andy Lau as his crisply efficient, ambitious counterpart.
The plot, propelled as well by the music, unpredictably twists and takes hairpin turns from the beginning so that even with helpful flashbacks it's a thrilling roller coaster ride to try to follow the constantly changing loyalties, manipulations, deals and revelations, not unlike the TV series "The Wire."
Regardless, you get that the real battle is for the characters' souls as much as their lives and you hold your breath to the last surprising minute. The initial motivations for how the men came to be at this crossroads will doubtless be explored in the prequel and sequel that haven't been released in the U.S. yet.
The women are just the girlfriends, but they do have separate lives, jobs and choices that impact the men in their lives.
With noted cinematographer Christopher Doyle is listed as a "visual consultant" in the credits, the great bulk of the film takes place at night, like a comparable chase film "Collateral," so it was unfortunate that the print I saw was not pristine.
It was also annoying that the subtitles were white on white illegible and that ideograms that are shown in the scene are not translated, even when the camera rests on them for a length of time that makes one assume something significant is written there.
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