For a while now I've had to endure friends raving about how entertaining and thrilling Infernal Affairs is. Despite their constant bombardments that I should go see the movie immediately, I just never got around to it. However, I just recently had a chance to sit down with Miramax's region 1 release and I can't believe what a good movie it is. Infernal Affairs is without a doubt a breathtaking feature. The story does an amazing job unraveling two very dynamic personalities revolving around the traditional good and bad roles. Almost immediately, the movie's characters become enticing, leaving you on the end of your seat wanting more.
Infernal Affairs is about two young boys who were given tasks in life that require them to make the ultimate sacrifice and live a complete lie. The story begins when both boys are initiated into their respective roles. One is sent by the Triad to join work as mole in the police department, while the other takes on the life as an undercover cop in the underbelly of society. Jumping ahead ten years, the lives of each individual is outlined and the two undercover operatives slowly begin to clash. The story becomes a race to unravel the identity of the other and remove them as a threat to their respective position. At the same time, the story does a wondrous job developing the individual roles of the two main characters.
The role development becomes a vital aspect to the movie's success. It's the two main characters that take a rather unoriginal storyline and twists it into something extremely gripping. What really makes the roles appealing is the fact that they are both projected in a positive manner. While we do have an affinitive good and bad guy, they are both portrayed as heroes, which makes for a couple of guys that everyone can easily connect with.
The cast also plays a big role in making this movie a success. There are four major roles that are filled by some great actors. The first pair includes Andy Lau and Tony Leung. Lau plays Lau Kin Ming, the corrupt cop. Lau does a wonderful job in his portrayal of his role, showing what it is like to be mole that struggles with a conscious. Leung plays the undercover cop, Chan Wing Yan, who after ten years of deep cover reconnaissance is just sick of it and all he wants to do is go home to a normal life. Leung's portrayal is also done very well. His slightly rough look makes him a perfect fit for a 'bad guy', while his actions still clearly mark him in a positive light.
The other two major roles are 'the handlers'. Eric Tsang is Sam, the biggest bad guy of the movie. He's the gangster who sent Ming to be a corrupt cop. He adds quite a lot to his role by providing a narcissistic personality that encourages others to sacrifice everything for his wellbeing. Anthony Wong plays Inspector Wong, the only person who knows the true nature about Yan. He adds a very father-like role for Yan and plays a very important role in his development. Each actor fits their respective role very well, adding a dynamic drive to the character roles.
Overall, Infernal Affairs is the kind of movie that provides a gripping story by developing a set of characters that are hard not to like. Soon into the movie you'll be overwhelmed with a surge of emotions, feeling the pain and the conflict that each of the main characters face. As the story unravels, it will become even more intriguing than the previous minute. At the end, you'll be begging for more. Fortunately, there are two sequels to this movie that cover the past and future of the two main characters, Ming and Yan.
The video is given in a 2.35:1 ratio anamorphic widescreen color format. For the most part, the picture quality is top notch providing a very sharp image. However, there are portions of the movie where a high trace of grain is noticeable in picture. Still, the overall quality is very good and should please anyone. I noticed no distinct problems with video compression, color distortions, or poor frame rate.
The audio is given in two languages, dubbed English and Cantonese. Both audio formats offer 5.1 Dolby digital tracks. The experience of watching the movie with the dubbed English track does not offer the same positive ambiance that the original Cantonese track offers. Instead with the dubbed English track, the entire feature feels slightly out of place as the dialogue never seems to match the individual speaking. In addition, the dialogue of the dubbed English track seems to lack the same emotion and tone of voice that the Cantonese track offers. As for sound effects and music, both come off fairly rich and vibrant. The surround sound setup is taken advantage of very well. Infernal Affairs also offers English subtitles for non-Cantonese speakers, which do not match the dialogue of the dubbed English.
The first extra is "The Making of Infernal Affairs (15:19)", which features cast and crew discussing the development of the movie. There are some pretty interesting comments made by the cast about the development of their characters. The next extra is "Confidential File: Behind-the-Scenes Look at Infernal Affairs (6:03)", which is pretty dull. It's basically random behind the scenes footage. Other special features include an alternative ending and a couple of trailers (international and original Chinese). I won't go into details about the alternative ending, but I'll say that it would not have hurt the movie, because it ends the film with the wrong mood.
I'm still stunned at how amazing Infernal Affairs is. The story, while somewhat unoriginal, becomes very gripping by introducing and developing a pair of very dynamic characters. The story unravels their roles so well that it becomes difficult to really not connect with them. In the end, it makes for a great story that will leave you demanding more.