Hong Kong, 2002/2003
101/119 minutes, in Cantonese with English subtitles
Directed by: Andrew Lau & Alan Mak
Starring: Andy Lau, Tony Leung Chiu-wai, Anthony Wong, Eric Tsang, Edison Chen, Shawn Yue, Carina Lau
(NOTE: we’re charging separate admissions to each INFERNAL AFFAIRS movies, but if you buy a Three-Pack you’re just paying $10 for each ticket! It’s like you’re losing money if you don’t go!)
Film Society of Lincoln Center
INFERNAL AFFAIRS 1
Friday, July 6 @ 6pm (buy tickets)
INFERNAL AFFAIRS 2
Friday, July 6 @ 8:40pm (buy tickets)
Ten years ago, INFERNAL AFFAIRS appeared on the scene and rocked the Hong Kong box office, won 23 film awards, and ultimately got remade by Martin Scorsese as The Departed, which won him his first “Best Director” Oscar (as well as Oscars for “Best Adapted Screenplay” and “Best Picture”). But what a lot of people don’t know is that the sequel, INFERNAL AFFAIRS 2, is even better than the first movie, and taking the two together is an intense cinematic experience equivalent to watching The Godfather 1 & 2 back-to-back.
INFERNAL AFFAIRS is the ultimate “why didn’t I think of that” high concept: a cop goes undercover as a gangster while, simultaneously, a gangster infiltrates the police force, pretending to be a cop. These two sleeper agents live underground for years before a series of mistakes clues in all the wrong people as to what’s going on and each mole is ordered to root out the problem, which in both cases happens to be themselves. It’s the Philip K. Dick movie that Michael Mann always wanted to direct, starring Tony Leung (In the Mood for Love) as the undercover cop, and pop star Andy Lau (A Simple Life) as the over-achieving gangster who’s infiltrated the police. Chris Doyle, Wong Kar-wai’s collaborator and the cinematographer on Zhang Yimou’s Hero, consulted on the visuals, and the film is saturated with toxic chromium hues that turn its elaborate setpieces into individual slices of hell.
But its prequel, INFERNAL AFFAIRS 2, ups the stakes spectacularly. Edison Chen plays the young Andy Lau and Shawn Yue plays a young Tony Leung, but the movie belong to their dueling father figures: Eric Tsang as the despotic triad mastermind, and Anthony Wong, the kind, patient cop who is Tony Leung’s handler. IA2 turns the first film upside down, revealing that the heroes of IA1 are amoral villains who’ll do anything for a promotion, and that the villains are decent men trying to make the best of intolerable situations. The intense Francis Ng joins the cast as a straightlaced son who, reluctantly, takes over the triad after his father is killed, and Carina Lau plays Eric Tsang’s ambitious wife. A hot-blooded throwback to the big, actor-intensive cop dramas of the 1970’s, INFERNAL AFFAIRS 1 & 2 writes its story in burning blood, on paper made of ice. It’s a one-two punch of cinematic greatness.
A huge THANK YOU to Square Enix who are supporting our festival in a major way, and hosting this double screening of Infernal Affairs 1 & 2. Their new game, Sleeping Dogs, is based in part on the IA series and it hits the street August 14 for PS3, Xbox 360, and Windows. Before the screening of IA 1 & 2 on Friday, July 6, there will be a panel with the developers of Sleeping Dogs, including Stephen Van Der Mescht (The Hulk, Scarface), Justin Bullard (Bully, Max Payne 3) and voice actor, Will Yun Lee (Hawaii Five-0, Total Recall, Red Dawn).