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.
Bullet in the Head: Three best friends get caught up in the Vietnam war trying to make a quick buck. When a film starts off this camp and choppy, you know you’re in for a rough ride. There’s lots of slow motion (it’s John Woo), namely people jumping away from massive explosions and/or leaping to the ground after being shot. There’s also a ton of blood and violence, with continual bloodbath shootouts between, the CIA, Vientamese, Viet Cong, Chinese, Mercenaries and anyone else with a gun. What’s most memorable about this film is that there’s absolutely no glorification of war, and what normal people are capable of when pushed into a corner (except the slow-mo!). Some scenes will stick with you for a long time after. Contracting the brutality of war is the films overall feel and style; almost every element is overpoetic, oversentimental, and has dangerous levels of overtheatrical – laugh-out-loud – overacting. It should also be tried for crimes against editing, music and scripts. Another pet hate crops up: relaxed bonding in the middle of a hostage situation / shootout?!?! All the minus points are schoolboy, which is the biggest tragedy as the centre of the film was a memorable, powerful and moving story.