Infernal Affairs III - A New Way Out for Local Crime Thrillers

Infernal Affairs is a brave jump from clichéd undercover genre of fiery actions to the battle of wit like the Catch Me If You Can type. Instead of the overly familiar gang wars, this is more in the league of duel of professional grade hi-fi system. The sacrifice of Anthony Wong is truly heroic, and the 'three-year after three-year' trial of Tony Leung is a test of perseverance. Brain is preferred to brawn. It can't be more true when Tony Leung says in the film, "Listen to it, it sounds so empty." Infernal Affairs has become the pride of local cinema and high officials. This long-starved "conceit" is beyond the actual film.

In fact, many battles of wit crime thrillers are rift with plot holes. But, nothing is perfect in this world. There are unforgivable oversights in Internal Affairs, some are even common sense (for instance, the rooftop scenes have forgotten the existence of closed circuit TV in elevators). Whether in the mainland version or the local version, there is no mentioning of Sammi Cheng and the undercover file in her possession.

The "success" of Internal Affairs is its dramatic tension, which has the audiences hooked throughout.

By discarding the old model, by replacing action with drama, Infernal Affairs give us powerful and fitting performances from the actors (the subtleness of Anthony Wong, the arrogance of Eric Tsang, the about-face of Andy Lau, and the tenderness of Tony Leung). The precise direction and the surging score propel the drama, and serve as a roadmap for the future of local crime thrillers.

By Pierre Lam

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