Infernal Affairs

Maybe you've heard that this flat-out fabulous Hong Kong police thriller will soon spawn an American remake ring Leonardo DiCaprio and Matt Damon, to be directed by Martin Scorsese. Sign me up.p>ut do not, by any means, skip the original, which throbs with action, suspense and a seductive rhythm all its own. The plot is hard-line basic: Yan (Tony Leung) is a cop who has lived undercover in a triad gang for a decade and is near meltdown. Ming (Andy Lau) is a gangster passing as a police officer and nearing his own breaking point. Neither realizes who the other is. But both the internal-affairs cops and the gang boss Sam (comic actor Eric Tsang, in a menacingly effective change of pace) know a mole has infiltrated their midst. Yan turns to the only cop privy to his secret identity, his supervisor (the superb character actor Anthony Wong brings gravity, grace and sly wit to the role). Then, as action convention demands, all hell breaks loose. p>t's a tribute to co-directors Andrew Lau and Alan Mak that almost nothing about Infernal Affairs follows the rules. Asian super Leung and Lau give bruising, brilliant performances that transcend genre. The film prowls the night with a lit-by-neon intensity that recalls Michael Mann's Collateral but illuminates a very special circle of hell reserved for those guilty of betrayal. The filmmakers rub our noses in violence yet cut deepest in moments of agonizing quiet, including a climactic rooftop scene between Yan and Ming. This is a movie that gets its hooks into you early, and no chance is it letting go.

From The Archives Issue 377: September 2, 1982