LOYALTY. HONOR. BETRAYAL.
One cop (Tony Leung Chiu-wai) and one gangster (Andy Lau) have infiltrated their enemy organizations; the outcome of the war between the Hong Kong police and the mafia depends on their intelligence. It certainly is a brilliant idea for a smooth-looking, successful thriller and the directors know how to tell the story in a fast, dynamic and straightforward fashion; Lau has done his huge share of action movies in the past. The emotional content of the script has plenty of potential, but it isn’t fully explored, especially when compared to its superior U.S. remake. Still, it’s easy to care for the two men working undercover, not least Lau as the phony cop.
2002-Hong Kong. 101 min. Color. Widescreen. Produced by Andrew Lau. Directed by Andrew Lau, Alan Mak. Screenplay: Alan Mak, Felix Chong. Cast: Tony Leung Chiu-wai (Chan Wing Yan), Andy Lau (Lau Kin Ming), Anthony Wong (Wong Chi Shing), Eric Tsang, Chapman To, Lam Ka-tung.
Trivia: Followed by two sequels, starting with Infernal Affairs II (2003); remade in the U.S. as The Departed (2006).
Last word: “With [‘Face/Off’] as inspiration, I began to start to think about a story in which two people swap identities. ‘Infernal Affairs’ really started from there. In Hong Kong, there are so many movies about undercover cops, but we didn’t have any about a triad member infiltrating the police. Actually, I think it must happen, so ‘Infernal Affairs’ came out of that idea. Actually, I think all the filmmakers in Hong Kong are influenced by John Woo.” (Mak, Hong Kong Cinemagic)