Infernal Affairs III - Style over Substance

Infernal Affairs III adds Leon Lai and Chen Daoming to its cast, which is a smart box office calculation. But creatively speaking, it has not been given much room to maneuver. Much effort has been put into the arrangement, as seen in the inversion and crosscutting narration. It should a challenge to the general audience. Part of the editing is painstakingly done, especially in the transition from scene to scene. But the development has lost the gripping suspense that marked the first film.

Infernal Affairs III is a sequel to Infernal Affairs, and fills in what is left out in the first film. The main storyline is the duel between Andy Lau and Leon Lai, the mysterious man from the Security Bureau. Is he a good guy or a bad guy? Can Andy Lau take him down? It is this "secret battle" that propels the film. It turns out that the story of this new character (the other is Chen Daoming) does not begin after the death of Chan Wing-yan (Tony Leung), but before the death of Chan. These two characters have interaction with the three characters who have died in the first film, respectively Chan Wing-yan, Wong Chi-shing and Hon Sam. In that case what we have seen in the first film is only part of the story, and now the audience is shown the part they have not seen. This is a very bold arrangement for a sequel. And the fill-in is some interpersonal relationship that can be further developed, like the love affair between Tong Leung and Kelly Chan, which was barely touched on in the first film, is given a full treatment here.

It is on the emotional line that the film loses its grip on the rhythm. The love affair between Kelly Chan and Tony Leung is quite loose, and Andy Lau’s psychological struggle loosens it even further, and it cannot be rewound back. And the reversal in the end, which the film has taken pains to mislead or providing doubts beforehand, does not really surprise the audience as expected.

By Po Sharp

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