Infernal Affairs Review
Nine years ago, a group of young men joined the Hong Kong police academy, supported by Triad leader Sam Zhran they were to graduate and become officers and would then be in a position to help the Triad leader Zhran in his nefarious operations. However, whilst one of the cadets, Lau Kin Ming (Andy Lau) graduates and does, indeed, become a powerful mole within the department another, Chan Wing Yan (Tony Leung Chiu Wai), is recruited whilst still at the academy to go underground within the triad and be a police mole.
In the present day the two moles find themselves working for their respective handlers and both fight their day to day battles with their duality.
Originally titled “We Jian Dao” and known in Hong Kong under the title “I want to be you”, Infernal Affairs tries very hard to be a cut above a normal police drama and, thankfully, it succeeds. Focussing primarily not just on the actions both men have to take to defend their secret identities and satisfy their handlers but also on the torment both men face in their dual roles. Both men also suffer with their relationships, with Lau Kin Ming having to keep his identity from his fiancé and Chan Wing Yan having already lost one love, when he went underground, and now not being able to pursue another. Not relying on formulaic Hollywood police sidekicks or on stylistic violence, the characters seem genuine which helps to wind the tension up one more notch. The shocks, when they do come, take you by surprise especially when the actions of the police mole seem to have cost Chan Wing Yan everything he hoped to regain.
An excellent example of Asian film making, (and indeed, of film making in general), I'm not at all surprised that “Infernal Affairs” was the highest grossing Hong Kong film of 2002. An inevitable US remake is, apparently, underway helmed by Martin Scorsese. Please, do yourselves a favour and check out this version first!