PictureInfernal Affairs 3 is presented to us with an AVC encoded 1080p picture using a 2.35:1 aspect ratio. Hong Kong films can be tough to judge as they invariably have poorer transfers than their Western brethren. Even recent offerings are prone to specks of dirt and often display a somewhat softer image in places and this film is no different. The added bonus of the extra resolution is apparent but it isn't always well utilised due to the aforementioned lack of crispness in the original image. It is hard to mark the film down too much on this criticism though as many fans of the genre or Hong Kong films as a whole will be perfectly familiar with what seems to be the occasional focal inconsistency.
Colours are bold but certainly less so than the standard definition disc incarnations of the film. The DVD tended to look closer to the sepia end of the spectrum with faces a touch too brown for my liking. Here skin tones, like the rest of the colours, are far more life like. Much of the film (the scenes set in the present day) have a blueish tone to them. This Is stylistic rather than an anomaly, but when combined with some of the lighting techniques can seem to throw up the odd jarring shot.
It is all too easy with a title such as this to pore over each frame to work out if the oddity you see is due to the transfer process or was there on the original print. Like most lower budget (in comparison to Hollywood) pieces, this has its fair share of problems; posterization was apparent in places, as was some banding. Overall, this won't compare to an Eastern film with major studio backing such as Kung Fu Hustle, but it is still superior to the DVD in enough places to make it the better example. If you overlook the problems Hong Kong films are prone to, then add an extra point. For those looking for demo disc quality though, look elsewhere.
SoundThings are ever so slightly rosier on the sound front though. With three tracks to choose from, the obvious choice would be that of the Cantonese language DTS HD Master Audio 6.1. Chan Kwong Wing (whose work post Infernal Affairs includes the Donnie Yen vehicle Flash Point as well as the historical action drama Warlords starring Jet Li and Andy Lau) has created a score that perfectly accompanies the on screen twists and turns which is well rounded and brought to life by this mix nicely.
There is a good rumble of bass when it is needed, as during the scenes of high tension and drama where an ominous tone is to signify the impending danger. Gunshots are gratifyingly sharp, with one such example quite literally making me startle. The rears are also well utilised and find themselves echoing a myriad of sounds, heightening the chatter during crowd scenes and effectively sweeping the action off the screen when needed.
Dialogue seems to be intermittent in this film and truth be told, the fact that i can speak but one language; English, doesn't aid me in telling how clear pronunciations etc are. What I can say is that it didn't appear to be muddy or muffled, but one can only wonder whether there are minute specifics of enunciation that may or may not be given adequate room to breathe.
Overall, a solid affair and all channels seem to be well prioritised when necessary. There is no great push to place too much through the rears and there are some nice subtle touches that raise this well above many other similar Hong Kong titles.
ExtrasThe Making of...
Clocking in at a mere twelve minutes is not nearly enough time to put together a suitably in depth assessment of this character driven piece. What we do get though is an assembly of cast and crew each offering a small insight into what each role consists of and where the formula for the success of the film series lies. Hardly earth shattering but I suppose it is better than nothing. The one good thing about this extra is the inclusion of English subtitles - it may sound simple but some discs lack this necessity for Western audiences on supplemental features.
Five trailers for other Hong Kong films; Warlords, Initial D, and Infernal Affairs 1,2 and 3.
VerdictThis stands as quite an odd disc to sum up frankly. On the one hand the picture isn't up to the standards of Western films, however to judge it against that yardstick would surely be wrong? When comparing it to other Hong Kong films, it fits in to the overall scheme by adhering to the same set of inconsistencies fans of such films will know all too well. For the rest, this may be one to test if you can get hold of it, in order to gauge your own tolerance for such flaws.
The film itself is almost a perfect sequel. It carries on a story many thought had no more life left in it than Yan himself and propels it into wholly unforeseen territories. It steadily digs away at the character of a man whose goals seem indecisive and ambivalent whilst also allowing us as viewers a new perspective on an already deceased leading player. The constant use of pairings allows the actors room to breath and highlights the dichotomy of those seeking to achieve multiple goals for different reasons. The interweaving of past and present works amazingly well and the further inclusion of Yan's psychiatrist forms a definite bond between the two leads through which they almost interact across the timeline.
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