Infernal Affairs (2002)

09Jan10

“Remember this, if you see someone doing something but at the same time watching you… then he is a cop.” – Keung

No time is wasted in this Hong Kong crime thriller from Andrew Lau. We’re quickly introduced to the film’s two protagonist’s, Asian film stars Andy Lau and Tony Leung. Each are groomed at a young age to lead a false life, their true intentions conflicting them until the end of the film. Andrew Lau’s swift pacing, frenetic energy and intelligent plot points is gripping, as we watch these two stars collide, matching wits and bullets.

Police officer Chan Wing-Yan (Tony Leung) is an undercover cop deep into the Triad clan, becoming a trusted henchman for gang leader Hon Sam (Eric Tsang), 10 years into his work. Meanwhile, Lau Kin-Ming (Andy Lau) is part of Hon’s gang at a young age and given instructions to join the police force with his clean record to infiltrate their system, serving as a spy. He quickly rises, heading a team of high security officials, giving tips to Hon, helping him keep the police away.

Things come to a head during a failed drug deal. As Police Superintendent Wong Chi-Shing (Anthony Wong) closes in on busting Hon during a drug deal, they find out just in time from Lau’s tip to dump the drugs prior to arrest. It’s then that Hon’s gang and the police force realize they have a spy in their organizations, pitting them in a race against each other to find the culprit.

The film throttles ahead, both Lau and Chan increasingly conflicted with their lies and the constant strain of deception. Chan becomes volatile and disruptive, his behavior questionable as though he’s taking on the gang’s traits of violence. Lau shows signs of doubt in his role as a corrupt cop, wanting to redeem himself. He finally ends Hon’s reign himself and is celebrated as a hero in the police force, but his true role is uncovered by the stunned Chan.

The film’s well developed characters and sharp dialogue gives the action a pure sense of purpose, steaming ahead to the inevitable collision of the two spies finally discovering each others identity. There’s no weak link with any of the actors, everyone giving a gritty performance. The non stop developments and sudden twists are unexpected and welcome. Andrew Lau’s film is unique, bringing a fresh, new vision to this well treaded genre.

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