Infernal Affairs (2002) / The departed (2006)

"Infernal Affairs is a gripping thriller with grandstanding drama, muscle-clenching suspense and two great action leads in Tony Leung and Andy Lau."

Tony Leung, one of the most sympathetic, attractive presences in Asian cinema, plays Yan: for 10 years, he has been a deep-cover police mole in the triads, immersed in their culture for his entire adult life, and certainly long enough to endure a hellish crisis of identity.

Yan has risen to be the most trusted lieutenant to thuggish gang boss Sam (Eric Tsang). He began this appallingly thankless task as a bright, observant 18-year-old cadet, and his recruitment was camouflaged by being publicly thrown out of training college in disgrace and then run in secret by his hardbitten chief, Superintendent Wong (Anthony Wong), the only man who knows his identity and who refuses his increasingly desperate requests to be brought in.
But there is a triad mole in the police. Andy Lau plays Ming, a cadet from Yan's graduating class, who secretly reports to Sam, sabotaging all the police swoops on Sam's cocaine deliveries. And when the police suspect a mole in their ranks, it is Ming who is approached by the Internal Affairs bureau to find the culprit. This natural born killer embarks on some character-assassination: suggesting that it is Supt Wong who is the corrupt cop.

The two men meet face to face at the very beginning and end of the picture: when Ming buys some stereo speakers from Yan, at one of Sam's "front" businesses - and then in the thrilling rooftop finale.

This movie carries the DNA of undercover thrillers like Serpico, French Connection, Donnie Brasco, and the dual influence of Ricky Lam's City on Fire and Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs. But the emphasis contrived by director Andrew Lau and screenwriter and co-director Alan Mak is not on violence but on the cat-and-mouse business of outsmarting the enemy and the paranoia of not knowing who the enemy is - within and without - and not knowing how far to push any victory without compromising your inside source.

Yan and Ming come from backgrounds in which serious self-examination and self-knowledge are as impossible as unaided human flight - witness Yan dozing on the analyst's couch - but they are nevertheless creepingly aware that they have each built secret careers betraying the people with whom they have grown up. More importantly, they are aware of each other; the existence of each is a mirror in which they glimpse their own life-long anxiety and deceit.

Film combines exhilarating action with liquid-nitrogen existential cool, gleaming and shimmering with the city's glass and steel. When going to the movies can seem like a pretty earnest business, it's good to have one that gets you hugging yourself with excitement.

    1. The Departed (2006)

    2. Most of Martin Scorsese's films have been about men trying to realize their inner image of themselves. That's as true of Travis Bickle as of Jake LaMotta, Rupert Pupkin, Howard Hughes, the Dalai Lama, Bob Dylan or, for that matter, Jesus Christ. 
    3. "The Departed" is about two men trying to live public lives that are the radical opposites of their inner realities. Their attempts threaten to destroy them, either by implosion or fatal betrayal. The telling of their stories involves a moral labyrinth, in which good and evil wear each other's masks.

    4. The story is inspired by "Infernal Affairs" (2002) by Alan Mak and Andrew Lau, the most successful Hong Kong film of recent years.What makes this a Scorsese film, and not merely a retread, is the director's use of actors, locations and energy, and its buried theme. I am fond of saying that a movie is not about what it's about; it's about how it's about it. That's always true of a Scorsese film.

    5. Matt Damon is Colin Sullivan, the kid spotted in that soda fountain by mob boss Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson). He enlists in the state police after Costello handpicks him so many years before as a promising spy. 
    6. Leonardo DiCaprio is Billy Costigan, an ace police cadet who is sent undercover by Capt. Queenan (Martin Sheen) to infiltrate Costello's gang. Both men succeed with their fraudulent identities; Colin rises in the force, and Billy rises in the mob.

    7. Ingenious additional layers of this double-blind are added by the modern devices of cell phones and computers. When the paths of the two undercover men cross, as they must, will they eventually end up on either end of the same phone call? 
    8. When the cops suspect they have an informer in their midst, what if they assign the informer to find himself? The traps and betrayals of the undercover life are dramatized in one of my favorite moments, when one of the characters is told, "I gave you the wrong address. But you went to the right one."

Whitey: United States of America v. James J. Bulger (2014)
  1. Filmmaker Joe Berlinger examines the story of South Boston crime boss Whitey Bulger, including his sensational trial. Key players  every side reveal Bulger's influence on crime and law enforcement.



Popular Posts