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.
Breaking News: takes a hostage situation and shows how the media no longer monopolise the coverage – the criminals use the internet to get their story across to the masses. The opening shot is an unbelievable single take that ends up filming a Heat-esque shoot out – at over 6 minutes long it’s absolutely jaw dropping, phenomenal crane work – planning must have taken weeks. The rest of the film has a late 80s / early 90s vibe… not 2004!!! (Totally corny soundtrack, acting and themes) It’s always nice seeing bad-ass villains bond over cooking too (Fail). After such an awesome opening the film struggles to match it for the rest of the duration, and the pacing is questionable for the most part. Has some interesting stuff to say about the police and 24/7, always-on-location, news but is hardly the most convincing argument. Would be good for people studying the media, otherwise you’ll find this filed under mediocre Asian cop flick. Other than a few memorable action scenes this is instantly forgettable, and disappointing coming from Jonnie To!