Wednesday, April 28, 2010

#106 Infernal Affairs: I don't know whether he's good or bad

2002. dir. Wai-keung Lau and Alan Mak, starring Andy Lau, Tony Leung, Anthony Wong, Eric Tsang. Cantonese with subtitles.

Seen it before? No, but I've seen The Departed, so sorta.

Yes, total remake of The Departed, but with some key differences. in fact it's pretty amazing how different these movies are. Don't worry about spoilers, if you've seen one, you've seen 'em both, plot wise, anyway...
  • First and most obvious difference is that Affairs is nearly an hour shorter. Thus there is much less plot, and less character development. We don't really get to see how Yan infiltrates Boss Sam's gang. Most of Sam's gang don't really get distinct personalities.
  • Departed consolidated three of the women characters into one -- in Affairs, the psychologist, Lau's girlfriend, and Yan's girlfriend are three separate people. This was controversial; personally I like the approach Departed used better, mainly because two of the three women in Affairs were basically given nothing interesting to do. Like, Yan's girlfriend shows up in one scene, and has a kid; she doesn't tell Yan that it's his child. Annnnnd... that's it. Dead end, no further relevance to the plot.
  • Lau's girlfriend is an author, and the book she's writing mirrors Lau's conflict. Eh, I thought this was a little too obvious.
  • Inspector Lau is the story equivalent of Matt Damon's character, but is hugely different. We don't really get a lot of motivation for why he acts as a mole. At the end of the movie, he repents, and doesn't die, because...
  • there is no equivalent for Sgt. Dignam (Mark Walberg) from Departed. Too bad because he was my favorite character... Actually this sort of messes up the plot, because when SP Wong dies, Yan has no more contact in the department.
  • The villain is an actual villain, and not just Jack Nicholson playing Jack Nicholson. Score on for Affairs, I guess.
  • Affairs is very serious; Departed is actually pretty funny in some parts. I think it's because the longer run time allows Departed more room to breathe.
  • In Affairs, it's made clear from the beginning that Boss Sam has multiple moles in the police department, but in Departed it's a surprise. This opens a plot hole in Affairs - wouldn't Lau know about the others? Since he's met them?
  • The climax of Affairs is very stylistically shot, with lots of jump cuts and slo-mo. I think the end of Departed, which is shot in a very blunt, straightforward way, has much more impact.

    Position on the list: Bumped
    Apparently there were two sequels: Think I'll pass
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