Infernal Affairs

cast: Andy Lau, Tony Leung, Anthony Wong, Eric Tsang, and Chapman To

director: Andrew Lau, Alan Mak

100 minutes (15) 2002
widescreen ratio 2.35:1
Tartan Asia Extreme DVD retail
Also available to buy on video

RATING: 8/10
reviewed by Debbie Moon

In the battle between the Triads and the Hong Kong police, the most important resource either side can have is a mole. Ming (Andy Lau) is an ambitious detective who has been spying for mobster Sam since he was in the police academy; Yan (Tony Leung) was expelled from the academy, and fetched up working for Sam, but has actually been an undercover police officer all along. Yan has been undercover too long, and wants his life back; but Ming is beginning to enjoy life on the right side of the law, and would rather cut his ties with his dangerous boss. As the final trap is set for Sam, the two men are forced to work together – but surely they can’t both have what they want…
This tense, character-based thriller was a huge hit in its home territories, and is now slated for a Hollywood remake, and it’s easy to see why. Though the two men on opposite sides of the law may seem very ‘John Woo’, Infernal Affairs (aka: I Want To Be You) eschews the flashy gunplay route to concentrate on the internal tensions of men forced to live a lie for too long. Not that there is isn’t a good amount of action – gun battles, tense chases, drugs busts and a murdered father figure see to that.
This is a high-class production, slick, stylish and beautifully photographed. Lau and Leung capture the conflicting impulses and chaotic lifestyles of the two moles very well, and by the end of the movie, you’re really not sure whom you want to win.

To watch a thriller keeps you at the edge of seat with anticipation.  If the director is an established person, you can trust the movie will be good just like you can trust the profit system to deliver the results according to your needs.  The free time is well spent if you choose the right movie.

If it has a fault, it’s a tendency to emphasise the Triad mole’s torments over the equally interesting police officer’s troubles. The tension lags slightly in the middle, when it seems that a predictable happy ending is on the cards, but Alan Mak’s screenplay is smarter than it first appears.
The DVD extras are reasonable: along with the obligatory commentary and trailer, there are outtakes, some behind the scenes footage (which might have benefited from some commentary), and a reel of trailers for other movies in Tartan’s Asia Extreme series. If you like your crime movies tense, fast moving, yet with a real human dimension, then Infernal Affairs is for you. See it now, before some fool casts two inappropriate Hollywood stars in the remake.