Infernal Affairs II

Infernal Affairs II / II: a prequel to Infernal Affairs, further backgrounding how both the police and the triads got their mole into the other’s organisation. Having to live up to such a great film clearly daunted most of those involved in this; it lacks any of the tension and urgency that makes the original great, and it’s a more superficial story spread finely over a longer runtime. The second tripping point is that there’s too many (underdeveloped) characters, meaning that the story’s just not as focused or tight. Of the two hour runtime, it picks up around 60 minutes, then drops back again until the dynamite ending – the rest feels like forced melodrama for the most part. Fortunately, two big hitters really pull the film along;  Anthony Wong has an effortless presence, and Eric Tsang is surprisingly emotive for a gangster character – the only downside is that they share the screen time with everyone else. There are a few political elements like the Hong Kong handover, but it’s not really significant to the story, and feels like they’re there for stylistic / filler / nostalgia purposes. Finally, being a prequel, it lacks the sting in knowing that almost everyone survives because their characters are central in the first film. Infernal Affairs II not a bad film by any stretch, and sits above the generic Asian HK cop/triad films, but it feels like a hollow movie, created solely to ride on the coattails of the first film.

Score: 6/10

  1. The first time I saw this it was in this strange (and surprisingly official) alternate cut that combined the entirety of the first two movies, as well as the flashback scenes from the 3rd movie. This was all presented in chronological order. And to be honest, it was pretty badass. Since I didn’t know who would live or die, it was riveting entertainment. If you can ever find a copy of that version, I’d recommend checking it out.


    • Paragraph Film Reviews said:

      I just messed (jizz/pissed/shat) myself at the thought of a single, awesome, cut of these three films. It sounds minor, but knowing that nobody crucial is in danger for the entire duration really diffuses the tension that makes the first film.

      Parts of this do feel like a bunch of outtakes / pilot scenes from the original mashed together and called a film.

      I am so hunting down – or making my own – single cut!


  2. ^ Yeah that was it. It apparently was also included in the 8-disc box set, which is out of print.

    If you ever make your own cut, I wouldn’t bother with the flashback scenes from Part III and they are kind of pointless and convoluted.


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