Thursday, April 29, 2010

'Infernal Affairs' is an excellent police thriller

Infernal Affairs (2002)
Starring: Andy Lau, Tony Leung, Eric Tsang, and Anthony Wong
Director: Wei Keung Lau
Rating: Eight of Ten Stars

A mole (Lau) for the Triad criminal gangs has risen to a position of prominance and authority in the Hong Kong police department and has been assigned to the prestigious anti-drug and anti-organized crime taskforce, exactly where his crimeboss master (Tsang) wanted him to be. While taking part in a sting, the mole discovers that the police have a counterpart to him in the Triads--a cop (Leung) who has been undercover for so long that only one person in the police department knows his identity. The undercover cop likewise realizes there is mole in his ranks... and the two men begin an investigative race to unmask and destroy each other to save themselves. Along the way, they must also choose where their real loyalties lie--with the lives they have adopted, or the lives they left behind.

Police dramas don't come much more tense and well-written than this one. The suspense and stakes grow ever-higher as the film unfolds, and Lau and Leung's excellent performances as two men who have lived lies for so long they may have lost track of who they were to begin with, lend even more tension to the story.

Few movies manage to pull off a cat-and-mouse chase story as successfully as this one does, particularly since it's got two mice and each are also the cat. The stars and the supporting cast are all excellent, the action sequences are well done--even if the tensest of moments actually take place with characters sitting at tables or in front of computers--and it's got a couple of twists toward the end that don't feel like the sort of cheats that so many movie makers like to impliment these days.

"Infernal Affairs" is a truly excellent crime-drama. It loses One Star for a couple of stray plot-threads I would have liked to have seen better handled, but that's only a minor annoyance.

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