Infernal Affairs
MEGA STAR
 
Starring:
Directed By:
Alan Mak & Andrew Lau
Year:
2002
Run Time:
97 mins
Producer: Mega Star
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Languages:
CANTONESE DTS, Cantonese 5.1, Mandarin 5.1, Mandarin DTS
Subtitles:
Chinese (S&T), English
W/S Subtitles:
Yes
Ratio:
2.35:1 Anamorphic
Region:
NTSC 0
Genre:
Action / Thriller / Drama - Cat. IIB
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MOVIE
10/10

With memories of Andrew Lau's massively disappointing 'A Man Called Hero' and 'Storm Riders' still fresh in my mind, my heart sank upon reading his name, alongside the more respected Alan Mak, during the opening credits of this 2002 production.
Thankfully, these feelings of trepidation soon dispersed as one of the most impressive Hong Kong films in some time unfolded before my eyes...

This exceptionally stylish, yet maturely handled tale revolves around a seemingly simple premise: a police officer undercover in the triads, and a triad member undercover in the Police force.

Tony Leung Chiu-Wai, the undercover cop, and Andy Lau, the undercover triad, are given the task by each of their bosses, to find the mole in their respective organisations.
With both men playing that age old game of cat and mouse, whilst their bosses push them further and harder, only one outcome is inevitable - one will win, and one will lose.

Tony Leung turns in yet another sublime performance - a sentence which seem synonymous with his name nowadays - and always seems to be able to catch you off guard with the briefest of smiles, or the slightest sorrowful gaze.
Leung's mastery of this imbues his character with a sadness at odds with Lau's seemingly bravura Internal Affairs officer, yet Director Lau still manages to blur the lines between the two characters - both are men placed in circumstances in which they have no control, and which control them.

For many, Andy Lau has often flattered to deceive - an actor with great promise, who only lives up to that in fits and starts. Recently though, possibly with age creeping up, he appears to have matured greatly, both into his looks and his acting. Here he has to straddle a fine line between a man who to all intents and purposes is a villain, yet much in the same way as Leung's character, is a victim of circumstance.

The screenplay's intelligence, along with its skillful direction, leave an unease running through the entire film, as your heart never quite knows who your loyalties lie with. This is only added to by Christopher Doyles gorgeous lighting, and Chan Kwong-Wing's stirring score.

Movie-making, Hong Kong-based or otherwise, rarely gets better than this.

PICTURE
9/10

This Mega Star-authored DVD transfer is hopefully a sign of things to come.
The impressive lighting utilised throughout the production is perfectly translated, and with its Anamorphic enhancement, detail is also sharply reproduced.
Black-levels are rock-solid throughout, giving a cinematic crispness to the transfer.

What little there is to criticise comes in the form of of the three or four scenes which fail to match the clarity and excellence of those which preceded them.
Scratches, something which shouldn't be noticeable in today's world of digital remastering, are also evident at times throughout this recent production.

With just a little more attention, this DVD could have easily reached reference-quality standards, thanks to it's intelligently placed Layer-Change, and generally impressive levels of detail and colour reproduction.
However, with the minor, though somewhat irritating imperfections mentioned above, it remains almost perfect.

SOUND
10/10

With the DTS logo emblazoned across its cover, Infernal Affairs exhilarating soundtrack is the only option for those suitably equipped.
The aggressive bass, and clear dialogue are a good few notches above its 5.1 brethren and, on a decent system, the excellent placement of music and effects will immerse you totally in Lau & Mak's world of twisted loyalties.

SUBTITLES
9/10

Thankfully bordered in black, unlike the frustratingly all-white versions I had to endure at the cinema, the subtitles are of a very high standard.
A few things do stick in the throat - some signs and symbols are left untranslated, a few pieces of mistranslation occur, as does the odd spelling mistake.

Viewers beware: those that are subtitle virgins may want to cut their teeth elsewhere, as the subs only remain onscreen for the time it takes that particular piece of dialogue to be spoken.
For those of us used to this, or wishing to do their best, this would be an ideal film to introduce newcomers to the exhilarating world of Hong Kong cinema.

MENUS
8/10

Scored using the film's many pieces of music, the menus on both discs are easy to navigate, and very well designed.

EXTRAS
7/10

Disc One:

Upon choosing to play the movie, you are presented with the option of viewing the film in its Theatrical/Director's Cut, or with an Alternative Ending.
The Alternative Ending is a complete dud - flattening the atmosphere so impressively built until that point. Avoid at all costs.

Disc Two:

The Story
A plot synopsis written in Chinese and English.

Confidential File
Although not subbed, this composite of behind-the-scenes footage, set to the film's soundtrack, is nonetheless watchable.

Music Video
Cantonese and Mandarin versions of the same song are available under this option. Sung by Andy Lau and Tony Leung, the song and music video are both of a high standard, although only subtitled in Chinese.

Making Of
Making Of (16 mins)
Self explanatory extra which, due to its total lack of English subtitles, is a waste of time for non-Cantonese speaking viewers. Very disappointing considering the length and breadth of material featured.

Making Of (Shot Version) 1, 2, 3, 4
Misspelled on the disc, this should read Short Version, and is the above extra, only divided into 4 selectable parts. Pointless beyond words.

Trailers
Teaser, Theatrical Trailer, TV Spots and More Attractions (Cat and Mouse, Naked Weapon, He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not).

Cast and Credits
Cast and Staff Listing

Bio and Filmo
The Cast and Staff listing is just that - in English and Chinese.
The other option takes you to an extensive list of the artists involved, and features very brief Biography and Filmography notes.

Photo Gallery
Lobby Stills (7)
Posters (12)
Outdoor Billboard and Banner (9)
Souvenir (12) Tie-ins for the film, ranging from mufflers to umbrellas.

A decent range of extras, let down by a distinct lack of English subtitles. Rather a missed opportunity from Mega Star.

CONCLUSION
10/10

With fine directorial touches, a stunning and fitting soundtrack, and the sort of ensemble acting which would put most US films to shame, Infernal Affairs proclaims that Hong Kong cinema has much more to offer before its supposed death toll chimes.
And on this showing, and its appearance in mainstream cinemas across the country, the future may be far brighter than many could have hoped.

MOVIE 10/10
PICTURE
9/10
SOUND
10/10
SUBTITLES
9/10
EXTRAS
7/10
MENUS
8/10
PACKAGING
7/10
OVERALL 10/10

Certain Screengrabs courtesy of So Good...