Features Live Action Movies

Infernal Affairs II
(Mou Gaan Dou II,

Directors Andrew Lau, Alan Mak – 2003 – Hong Kong – Cert. 15 – 119m


Prequel in which a cop begins undercover in the triads and a triad undercover in the cops – reviewed for What’s On In London to coincide with UK cinema release, Friday, August 6th 2004

Set mostly in 2002, Infernal Affairs detailed the power struggle between undercover triad member Ming (Andy Lau) in the police and undercover cop Yan (Tony Leung Chiu-Wai) in the triads. Neither star appears second time round, younger versions of their characters played instead by Edison Chen (Ming) and Shawn Yue (Yan). This strategy’s success is debatable since neither is as watchable.

More successfully, Eric Tsang and Anthony Wong reprise their roles as police inspector Wong and triad member Sam, with the original’s directors Andrew Lau and Alan Mak wisely placing these two rather than the youngsters centre stage. Hong Kong buffs will recognise worthwhile bit parts from Carina Lau (Days Of Being Wild, Wong Kar-wai, 1990) and Roy Cheung (City On Fire, Ringo Lam, 1987).

On one level, the film plays out as a buddy movie between honest, good-natured gangster (really) Sam and driven law enforcer Wong. On another, running from 1991 through 1997, it makes much of 1997’s British to Chinese handover (though directors such as Wong Kar-Wai and Fruit Chan have dealt with this more effectively elsewhere). But on a further level still, it merely plods through a series of set pieces involving attempts by ascendant mob boss Hau (Francis Ng) to kill several underlings who threaten his leadership: staple genre stuff if hardly the reinventive material that made IA so thrilling.

A third instalment has also been made, scheduled for release here later this year, as apparently has a Godfather-style re-edited TV version. For maximum enjoyment – and to understand what’s going on – watch Tartan’s extras-stacked DVD of the original first.


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