50/50 Review #50: Infernal Affairs.

I'll come out and say it--I'm not a huge fan of The Departed. It's not because I think it's a bad film. It's not. I even liked it. But I only saw it for the first time maybe a couple years ago, which would still be at least 4 years after it came out. This movie had been hyped up like crazy. It was lauded as one of the greatest cop dramas of not only our time, but possibly of all time. I had 4 years to let that sink in when I watched it. Then when I did, I guess I missed something within the setup of the film and was totally lost and confused for the majority of it. I didn't know who was who or what was going on. I eventually caught on, but by that point, I hadn't become overly invested in the characters. It also didn't help that, not long before I finally watched it, a major character's death was spoiled for me (to avoid spoiling others, I'll say the elevator scene death). So the shocking twist that grabbed so many... had zero effect on me. Needless to say, everything was going against me when I watched that film. And I will be the first to admit that I need to rewatch it, and I will. But first let's talk about the original version.

The film follows pretty much the same story. Sam (Eric Tsang) is a Triad leader who wants to infiltrate the police. The mole that gets in is Lau (Andy Lau). At the same time, Superintendant Wong (Anthony Wong) sees potential in a new cadet named Yan (Tony Leung), who he sets up as an undercover cop in Sam's gang. Both moles are in their respective positions for years, moving up the ranks. But when each group realizes there's a mole in their organizations, both moles are tasked with finding out who the other is.

I don't know why, but for some reason, I really liked this version more than The Departed. I did start out slightly confused at different points as to what exactly was going on or if it was present day or a flashback or what, but that never lasted long. I know it's pretty much the exact same story, but I did like the tension that built up in finding out who the moles are... and its the moles who have to figure it out. I think what helps this one work out a little better than the other is pacing. This has a very fast pacing. The film is only 100 minutes, while The Departed is 2 and a half hours. Granted, I know it takes elements from the entire Infernal Affairs trilogy, but the primary story is the first film. I also really liked the whole morse code aspect, which is not in the remake. I thought that was clever and fun.

Another thing I really liked in this that wasn't in the remake was Lau's novelist girlfriend. She's writing a novel about a schizophrenic who starts to lose his identity. The themes between her book and what is going on in the film is pretty on-the-nose, but I really liked that aspect of it. It added a level of meta to the story, and you know how I appreciate meta.

On the whole, though, I really don't have much to say about the film. It was cheesy in parts with the melodrama of the music during certain scenes. But on the whole, I thought it was intense, it had a great sense of character and theme, and it had a great concept that it pulled off well. And the story wasn't bloated--it had a story to tell and it told it. It wasn't perfect, but it was still pretty dang entertaining and well made. Like I said, I'll go back eventually and re-watch The Departed (so you don't have to yell at me in the comments about it). But as for this one...

A Keanu 'Whoa'

(P.S. And that will wrap it up for both Kai's Month and the 50/50 List! Kai had a rather solid month all around. 3 Keanu's and a McLovin! I'd say that's pretty dang good! As for this project, keep an eye out on Friday for the wrap-up post on the 50/50 as a whole. It won't be as crazy in-depth as my 60/60 wrap-up, but it'll have some good lists and fun facts. And that'll about do it!)

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