Infernal Affairs III: part sequel to number 2, and part semi-prequel to the original movie. The layout of the story in this film is ridiculous: it leaps all over the entire ‘Infernal Affairs’ timeline like a demented flea – so much so that it’s a chore trying to keep track of what’s before, after and between the previous two movies. It also doesn’t help matters that 6 characters have been thrown back on the screen after being killed in the first two movies! It even feels like it’s been directed by someone else, which it hadn’t, but tells us that even the director couldn’t be arsed. The signature moments of flare and tension are replaced with lots of forced, over-egged dramatic moments that rely on swooshy sound effects and slow-mo camera movements to create drama out of nothing. It really feels like IA3 only exists because the first two movies were so successful; it’s clearly retrospectively written, rushed, ill-conceived and a tad cynical. it’s a bit of a crushingly disappointing way of capping off a brilliant first and decent second film.
Infernal Affairs / 無間道: the Hong Kong triads have inserted a loyal mole into the police force, who themselves have an undercover officer in the same gang – which cover will get blown first? As soon as it starts you can tell that this is simply great storytelling; it’s not dumbed down, there’s no filler and most interestingly, very little shooting/action for a cop-gangster film. The scenes where both sides are simultaneously involved are truly heart-pounding – even after seeing this and the re-make several times each. Maximising the espionage, tension and suspicion this grips you like an anaconda for the entirety, and doesn’t let go until the final scene. The police mole also throws up an interesting moral dilemma in the final third of the movie. None of the highly-watchable central actors put a foot wrong, with solid performances from the who’s who in Hong Kong cast – the only rubbish character is the ridiculous, annoying girlfriend that should have been written out. Until recently, you knew that a foreign film was decent when Hollywood re-made it – sure The Departed is brilliant, but is essentially this with a 60 minute longer runtime. Infernal Affairs is better than decent, it’s better than brilliant, it is the gold standard of police dramas. Absolute must-see.
Fulltime Killer: A couple of hitmen, ‘O’ and ‘Tok’, become intertwined in a battle to prove who is the best in Asia. Turns in to a bit of a ‘two hitmen and a cleaner’ story, and while the lady was central to the story, the film would have been much more exciting and faster-paced without all of the terrible characterisation scenes she facilitated. The narrator changes between the 2 killers for the most part, then a random crazy policeman towards the end – bizarre. There’s some very cool action & shootouts and it’s visually sumptuous in parts, although nothing’s really that memorable. Andy Lau’s the standout as the cocksure shoot-form-the-hip dangerman. While this film’s decent enough it never really takes off of goes into top gear, even with its Metal Slug inspired ending. For those that enjoy style over substance, this one’s ideal.
Three Kingdoms – Resurrection of the Dragon: (Blu Ray) A Chinese historical epic that takes you through the life of a legendary military General. Nothing about this seems particularly well thought-out. Our hero (Zilong) ends up with a new BFF after five minutes, you only see his wife once, and he becomes an invincible warrior after twenty minutes; as you do. There’s hardly any martial arts, but quite a few battles; some of which are on gigantic scale… but you couldn’t have made them any more boring if you tried. This is mostly down to the poor disjointed editing and slow-motion / blurry techniques that are overused. The BD is mediocre: some of the costumes and scenery are detailed but there’s a lot of noise in some scenes, the sound is also up and down. Different era altogether but Assembly is the best Chinese war film I remember seeing. All in, it had good intentions but is riddled with cheesy over-sentimental vibes.