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Infernal Affairs is a 2002 Hong Kong crime thriller film directed by Andrew Lau and Alan Mak and written by Mak and Felix Chong. It tells the story of a police officer who infiltrates a Triad, and another officer secretly working for the same gang. It is the first in the Infernal Affairs series and is followed by Infernal Affairs II and Infernal Affairs III.

Infernal Affairs
IAmoviepost.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Traditional
Simplified
Directed by Andrew Lau
Alan Mak
Produced by Andrew Lau
Written by Alan Mak
Felix Chong
Starring Andy Lau
Tony Leung
Anthony Wong
Eric Tsang
Music by Chan Kwong-wing
Cinematography Andrew Lau
Lai Yiu-fai
Edited by Danny Pang
Curran Pang
Production
company
Distributed by Media Asia Distribution
Release date
  • 12 December 2002 (2002-12-12)
Running time
101 minutes
Country Hong Kong
Language Cantonese
Budget US$6.4 million[1]
Box office HK$55.1 million
Infernal Affairs
Traditional Chinese
Simplified Chinese
Literal meaning "Unceasing Path"

The Chinese title means "The Unceasing Path", a reference to Avici, the lowest level of Hell in Buddhism, where one endures suffering incessantly. The English title is a word play, combining the adjective 'infernal' (concerning hell) with internal affairs – the police department concerned with investigating its own officers.

The film had been selected as the Hong Kong entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 76th Academy Awards but was not nominated. Miramax Films acquired the United States distribution rights and gave it a limited US theatrical release in 2004.

Contents

PlotEdit

Chan Wing-yan, a police officer, goes undercover into a triad; only his direct superior, Superintendent Wong, is aware of his mission and true identity. Around the same time, Lau Kin-ming, a triad member, infiltrates the Hong Kong Police Force on the orders of a powerful gang boss, Hon Sam. Each mole has been planted by the rival organisation to gain an advantage in intelligence over the other side. Over the course of ten years, Chan experiences great stress from his undercover work while Lau quickly rises through the ranks in the police department.

Using Morse code the Chan is able to relay data back to the police. However, Lau alerts Hon, giving him enough time to order his minions to dispose of the evidence. After the incident, both Wong and Hon are tasked with finding the moles in their respective organization.

Wong intends to pull Chan out of undercover work for fear of his safety. However, he is caught by Hon's men and is killed when he is thrown off the building, having refused to reveal Chan despite the beating from the gangsters.

Through this incident, Lau retrieves Wong's cell phone and contacts Chan; both of them agree to foil a drug deal by Hon. The plan succeeds and many of Hon's men are arrested, while Lau betrays Hon and murders him. Everything seems to have returned to normal. However, back at the police headquarters, Chan discovers that Lau was the mole and leaves immediately.

Chan and Lau meet on the same rooftop where Wong was killed earlier. Chan disarms Lau and holds a pistol to his head as a rebuke to Lau's plea for forgiveness and request to remain as a cop. Inspector B arrives on the scene shortly and orders Chan to release Lau. Chan holds Lau as a hostage at gunpoint and backs into the lift, but upon moving his head from behind Lau he is suddenly shot in the head by B. B then reveals to Lau that he is also a mole planted by Hon. As they take the lift down to the lobby, Lau kills B out of his desire to eradicate traces of his past, become a "good guy" cop, and end the mole hunt.

Stepping out of the lift, Lau shows his identity card to the police to identify himself as one of them. Months after Chan's death, Lee discovers records revealing Chan's true identity as an undercover police officer; B becomes a scapegoat for Lau as the real mole in the police force and the case is closed. Lau salutes Chan at his funeral. A flashback reaffirms the point that Lau wished he had taken a different route in life.

CastEdit

Pre-release publicity focused on its star-studded cast (Andy Lau, Tony Leung, Anthony Wong, Eric Tsang, Kelly Chen and Sammi Cheng). However, entire cast exists as follows:

  • Andy Lau as Senior Inspector Lau Kin-ming (劉健明), Hon's mole in the police force.
  • Tony Leung as Chan Wing-yan (陳永仁), an undercover cop in Hon's triad.
  • Anthony Wong as Superintendent Wong Chi-shing (黃志誠), Chan's superior.
  • Eric Tsang as Hon Sam (韓琛), the triad boss and main antagonist.
  • Chapman To as "Silly" Keung (傻強), Hon's henchman.
  • Gordon Lam as Inspector B (大B; Big B), Lau's subordinate who is also a mole in the police force.
  • Sammi Cheng as Mary, Lau's fiancée.
  • Kelly Chen as Lee Sum-yee (李心兒), Chan's psychiatrist.
  • Berg Ng as Senior Inspector Cheung (張Sir), Wong's subordinate.
  • Wan Chi-keung as Officer Leung (梁Sir), the police chief.
  • Dion Lam as Del Piero, Hon's henchman.
  • Elva Hsiao as May, Chan's ex-girlfriend.

ReceptionEdit

Infernal Affairs garnered mainly positive reviews from film critics and audiences. Feedback for the film has been overwhelmingly positive, with an approval rating of 94% on review website Rotten Tomatoes. The website's critical consensus remarks the film as, "Smart and engrossing, this is one of Hong Kong's better cop thrillers"[2] While an overwhelming majority of viewers praised the film, a few film critics complained of the generic and forgettable plot-line[3].With regard to film's overall design, movie critics point that the moral dilemmas and emotional elements of the film were the main attributions that transformed the “somewhat unoriginal plot” into a success [4].

AwardsEdit

Infernal Affairs won seven out of the sixteen awards it was nominated for at the 22nd Hong Kong Film Awards, beating Zhang Yimou's Hero for the Best Film award. It also won Best Picture awards in the Golden Horse Awards and the Golden Bauhinia Awards among other awards too. It was ranked No. 30 in Empire magazine's "The 100 Best Films of World Cinema" in 2010.[5] It is the highest ranked Hong Kong film on Internet Movie Database's Top 250 movies list.

Box officeEdit

Infernal Affairs has grossed HK$55,057,176 in Hong Kong and USD$169,659 in North America. globally, it has grossed $8,708,932. It is ranked 181 in worldwide yearly 2004 and 9,979 in all-time domestic.[6] Comparing to 'Infernal Affairs', 'The Departed', which is the remake of Infernal affairs in the US, has grossed HK $1,039,728 in Hong Kong and USD $132,384,315 in North America. Globally, The Departed has grossed $291,465,034. It is ranked 14 in worldwide yearly 2006 and 422 in all-time domestic.[7]

Awards and nominationsEdit

List of Accolades
Award / Film Festival Category Recipient(s) Result
Udine Far East Film Festival Audience Award Andrew Lau
Alan Mak
Won
Asia Pacific Film Festival Best Sound Kinson Tsang Won
46th Blue Ribbon Awards Best Foreign Language Film Andrew Lau
Alan Mak
Won
Belgian Syndicate of Cinema Critics Grand Prix Nominated
40th Golden Horse Awards Best Picture Won
Best Director Andrew Lau
Alan Mak
Won
Best Actor Tony Leung Won
Best Supporting Actor Anthony Wong Won
Best Sound Effects Kinson Tsang King-Cheung Won
Viewer's Choice Award Won
Best Actor Andy Lau Nominated
Best Original Screenplay Alan Mak
Felix Chong
Nominated
Best Film Editing Danny Pang
Pang Ching-Hei
Nominated
Best Cinematography Andrew Lau
Lai Yiu-Fai
Nominated
Best Art Direction Choo Sung Pong
Wong Ching-Ching
Nominated
Best Action Choreography Dion Lam Dik-On Nominated
Best Visual Effects Christopher Doyle Nominated
8th Golden Bauhinia Awards Best Picture Won
Best Director Andrew Lau
Alan Mak
Won
Best Actor Tony Leung Won
Best Actor Andy Lau Nominated
Best Supporting Actor Anthony Wong Won
Best Original Screenplay Alan Mak
Felix Chong
Won
9th Hong Kong Film Critics Society Awards Film of Merit Won
Best Actor Anthony Wong Won
22nd Hong Kong Film Awards Best Film Won
Best Director Andrew Lau
Alan Mak
Won
Best Screenplay Alan Mak
Felix Chong
Won
Best Actor Tony Leung Won
Best Actor Andy Lau Nominated
Best Supporting Actor Anthony Wong Won
Best Supporting Actor Eric Tsang Nominated
Best Supporting Actor Chapman To Nominated
Best Cinematography Andrew Lau
Lai Yiu-Fai
Nominated
Best Film Editing Danny Pang
Pang Ching Hei
Won
Best Costume Design Lee Pik-Kwan Nominated
Best Action Choreography Dion Lam Nominated
Best Original Film Score Chan Kwong Wing Nominated
Best Original Film Song Song: "Infernal Affairs"

Composer: Ronald Ng
Lyrics: Albert Leung
Sung by: Tony Leung, Andy Lau

Won
Best Sound Design Kinson Tsang King-Cheung Nominated
Best Visual Effects Christopher Doyle Nominated

Cinematic techniquesEdit

Within Infernal Affairs, cinemagraphers Andrew Lau and Lai Yiu-fai rely heavily on cinematic techniques in order to convey flashbacks, scene changes, and dialogues respectively. Flashbacks are found throughout the film to reference the origin of relationships and the side the characters stand on[8] Scene changes are often made through the use of jump-cuts, freeze-frame shots, and fade outs. Whereas dialogues within the film are often captured by close-ups. The importance of jump cuts provides the effect of jumping forwards in time, and manipulating the duration of a single-shot, therefore moving the audience forward into time and establishing the next scene.[9] In addition, the use of freeze-frame shots provides the illusion that the action has ceased, establishing an important moment of the film. This provides characters the time for internal dialogue and leave an iconic lasting image.[10] Fade outs provides the audience the understanding and indicates that a period of time has passed during the film.[11] The use of close-ups establishes the character's face through the use of zooming in to heightens the actor's ability and empowers emotions in a film scene.[12]

MusicEdit

The original film score for Infernal Affairs was written and performed by Chan Kwong-wing.

Track listing
No.TitleArtist(s)Length
1."Entering The Inferno"Chan Kwong-wing2:06
2."If I Were Him"Chan Kwong-wing1:36
3."Goodbye Master"Chan Kwong-wing2:18
4."Who Are You?"Chan Kwong-wing2:44
5."Let Me Quit"Chan Kwong-wing1:32
6."I Dreamt About You"Chan Kwong-wing1:23
7."Salute"Chan Kwong-wing1:56
8."Mission Abort"Chan Kwong-wing4:31
9."I Am A Cop!"Chan Kwong-wing3:26
10."You Are The Only One"Chan Kwong-wing1:06
11."I Want To Be A Good Guy"Chan Kwong-wing3:30
12."Goodbye Master, Goodbye"Chan Kwong-wing1:56
13."The Inferno"Chan Kwong-wing1:51

The theme song, Infernal Affairs (無間道), was composed by Ronald Ng, lyrics provided by Albert Leung, and performed in Cantonese and Mandarin by Andy Lau and Tony Leung.

Although not included in the soundtrack, Tsai Chin's (蔡琴) song "Forgotten Times" (《被遺忘的時光》) features prominently in this film as a recurring element of its storyline, and also in its sequels. As well as serving to elucidate the theme of the films, the song plays an important plot function in chronologically connecting various elements of the story. The (a capella) song can be first heard when Chen and Lau meet in a store, as they are analyzing hi-fi equipment.

SymbolismEdit

Change faceEdit

The inspiration for this movie is said to come from John Woo's movie Face/Off, in which a police officer receives plastic surgery in order to take revenge on his son's killer. However, for his movie, Lau wanted to have a more realistic situation; instead of a physical face change, Lau wanted to have the characters swap identities.[13] The concept of "bian lian" or "change face", a technique traditionally used in Chinese Opera, may have been used here to depict the fluid and seamless morph of Chen and Lau's character's identities between the "good" and "bad" sides.

Double identityEdit

The character’s difficulty in finding one’s ‘authentic identity’ constitute the common storyline in Hong Kong undercover-cop tragedies.[14] The clash of identities between Yan and Ming force the viewer to wonder: “what will one do if one is tired of one’s present life and is set to give oneself a rebirth?”[14]Such a difficult process due to the reinvention of the self – involves a unique set of issues including the necessity of erasing one’s original identity or to straighten out one’s past through preserved documents “documents, public records, or even an individual’s memories, for they may prevent one from securing a newly acquired position and identity.”[14] Implied is also the question about ownership of both memories and records, for they decisively bear upon one’s entitlement to a new life.

Political implicationEdit

Apart from “How To Regain The Identity Of Police”, Infernal Affairs focuses on the issue of: “How to be a new person”. To become a good person, it is important to review the past. However the past can never be presented in a complete form, but it is gathered through memories and records.The transitional period of Hong Kong in 1997 also brings out the question of “How to be a new person”: from a British colonial ruling to an administrative region under Chinese government.[15]

This same implication is seen from the perspectives of Chan and Lau. Through Chan, “to be a new person” is to gain back the identity of police, escape from the confusion of identity after all the years in the triad. For Lau, “to be a new person” is actually to “wash away” (洗底)his history as a gangster[15]. And to do that he killed his boss and another undercover in police station. It brings the question to audience that whether Hong Kong is in the situation of Chan or Lau under the new political context. If Hong Kong is in the situation of Chan, it means it is finally walking out from the confusion of identity and become a true “Chinese person”. If Hong Kong is in the situation of Lau, is would be a story of “washing away” the old history by any means in order to adopt the new political environment.

LegacyEdit

The success of the film inspired many genres, including an open-world video game titled Sleeping Dogs (or True Crime: Hong Kong before canceled by Activision Blizzard in 2011),[16] with the protagonist of the story infiltrating the criminal underworld as an undercover police. Sleeping Dogs was developed by United Front Games and published by Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest series owner Square Enix.

A TV-Series remake has been scheduled to debut in 2018 produced by Media Asia and former TVB producer Tommy Leung. Once again named Infernal Affairs starring a star studded lineup of Damian Lau, Paul Chun, Lo Hoi-pang, Eric Tsang, Derek Kok and Dominic Lam. The TV-Series will stretch through three seasons with each season consisting of 12 episodes. The TV version of Infernal Affairs however, uses the same concept but with an entirely new story and characters.[17]

A Hindi remake is in progress and is produced by Mumbai-based production Azure Entertainment and Warner Bros India[18]

AdaptationsEdit

 
American poster

In 2003, Brad Pitt's production company Plan B Entertainment acquired the rights for a Hollywood remake, named The Departed, which was directed by Martin Scorsese, and starred Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson, and Mark Wahlberg, set in Boston, Massachusetts, roughly based on the life of famed Boston mobster James "Whitey" Bulger. The Departed was released on 6 October 2006 and won the Academy Award for Best Picture.

Lau, Tsang, and Cheung parodied the cinema scene to promote the Hong Kong Film Awards. Lau and Tsang, in their respective characters, go through the scene where they meet to gather info on the undercover cop amongst Hon Sam's gang. Lau Kin-ming asks Hon "Why do we always meet in a cinema?", to which Hon answers "It's quiet. No one comes to movies". Cheung comes out from the shadows behind them and says "I don't know...quite a few people watch movies" and we see a slew of Hong Kong celebrities watching various clips of Hong Kong films on the screen. Originally Tony Leung was going to appear but scheduling conflicts led to the recasting.

The 2003 TVB spoof celebrating the Chinese New Year called Mo Ba To (吐氣羊眉賀新春之無霸道), the 2004 comedy film Love Is a Many Stupid Thing by Wong Jing, and the 2004 TVB television drama Shades of Truth were re-writings based on the plot of the film.

In Taiwan SHODA (劉裕銘) and a secondary school student Blanka (布蘭卡) cut and rearranged the original film and inserted new sound tracks to produce their videos Infernal Affairs CD pro2 and Infernal Affairs iPod on the web. The videos had many views and both producers removed their videos after receiving cease and desist letters from the Group Power Workshop Limited (群體工作室), the Taiwan distributor of the film.[19]

Media Asia released a limited edition of eight-DVD set of the Infernal Affairs trilogy in an Ultimate Collectible Boxset (無間道終極珍藏DVD系列(8DVD套裝)) on 20 December 2004. Features included an online game and two Chinese fictional novels of the film series by Lee Muk-Tung (李牧童), titled 無間道I+II小說 ISBN 962-672-259-2 and 無間道III終極無間小說 ISBN 962-672-271-1.

The hi-fi shop scene was later recreated with additions of excerpts of the film to encourage businesses to join the Quality Tourism Services Scheme in Hong Kong.[20]

In 2009, a Korean remake City of Damnation, which was directed by Kim Dong-won was released on 22 January 2009.[21] In 2009, a Telugu remake Homam, which directed and acted by JD Chakravarthy along with Jagapathi Babu was released and became a notable movie[22][23]. In 2012, Double Face (ダブルフェイス), a Japanese television remake starring Hidetoshi Nishijima was released by TBS and WOWOW.[24] The production aired in two parts: "Police Impersonation" on WOWOW and "Undercover" on TBS.

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Infernal Affairs vs. The Departed
  2. ^ "MOU GAAN DOU (INFERNAL AFFAIRS)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 29 March 2018. 
  3. ^ Mckay, Brian. "Infernal Affairs". efilmcritic. Retrieved 29 March 2018. 
  4. ^ Khaw, Winnie. "'Infernal Affairs' (2002) Movie Review". Reel Rundown. Retrieved 29 March 2018. 
  5. ^ "The 100 Best Films of World Cinema – 30. Infernal Affairs". Empire. 
  6. ^ "Infernal Affairs (2004) - Box Office Mojo". www.boxofficemojo.com. Retrieved 2018-03-29. 
  7. ^ "The Departed (2006) - Box Office Mojo". www.boxofficemojo.com. Retrieved 2018-03-29. 
  8. ^ Kenny (2004). Teaching Tv Production in a Digital World: Integrating Media Literacy. Libraries Unltd Incorporated. p. 163. ISBN 1591581990. 
  9. ^ Bordwell, David; Thompson, Kristin (2006). Film Art: An Introduction (8th Edition). New York: McGraw Hill. p. 254. ISBN 978-0-07-331027-5. 
  10. ^ "Film Terms Glossary". filmsite. Retrieved 2018-03-29. 
  11. ^ Fielding, Raymond (1985). The Technique of Special Effects Cinematography. Focal Press. p. 152. ISBN 0-240-51234-0. 
  12. ^ "The 30 Best Uses of Close-Up In Cinema History". Taste of Cinema. Retrieved 2018-03-29. 
  13. ^ "无间道的幕后花絮". www.1905.com (in Chinese). Retrieved 2018-03-21. 
  14. ^ a b c Wing-Sang, Law (21 Nov 2006). "The violence of time and memory undercover: Hong Kong's Infernal Affairs". Inter-Asia Cultural Studies: 383–402. 
  15. ^ a b 羅, 永生 (2005-12-01). "解讀香港臥底電影的情緒結構和變遷". 台灣社會研究季刊 (60). ISSN 1021-9528. 
  16. ^ Sleeping Dogs, by United Front Games - The New York Times
  17. ^ Loong, Wai Ting (2017). "TV version of Infernal Affairs". Retrieved 2018-03-29. 
  18. ^ Shackleton, Liz (2017). "Hindi remake of 'Infernal Affairs' in the works". Retrieved 29 March 2018. 
  19. ^ 陳俍任:電影「無間道」搞怪版始作俑者「CD-PRO2版」作者,接獲在台發行商的警告信,《聯合報》。2004-06-06
  20. ^ "DiscoverHongKong – Interactive Gallery – Video Clips – Index". Discoverhongkong.com. Archived from the original on 28 July 2008. Retrieved 5 July 2009. 
  21. ^ "City of Damnation". Imdb.com. Retrieved 22 June 2011.
  22. ^ "Hong Kong Classic Infernal Affairs Set For an Indian Remake". News18. Retrieved 2018-03-29. 
  23. ^ Tartaglione, Nancy (2017-09-25). "Warner Bros India Preps 'Infernal Affairs' Remake With Azure Entertainment". Deadline. Retrieved 2018-03-29. 
  24. ^ ダブルフェイス・イントロダクション (TBS Introduction to Double Face). Retrieved 20 September 2012. (in Japanese)

External linksEdit