Chris Willman
February 09, 2007 AT 05:00 AM EST

Infernal Affairs

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
R
runtime
101 minutes
performer
Andy Lau, Tony Leung, Anthony Wong
director
Alan Mak, Andrew Lau
distributor
Miramax
author
Alan Mak, Felix Chong
genre
Drama

We gave it an A-

The screenwriter of The Departed is reportedly working on a sequel, which, given the first film’s body count, makes you wonder if he actually plans to set it in the title realm. But there’s precedent: Infernal Affairs, the Hong Kong smash that provided The Departed’s blueprint, prompted two follow-ups, collected in The Infernal Affairs Trilogy (R/Unrated, 338 mins., 2002-03). Both were produced and released within nine months of the original, with equally convoluted plotting — so whatever they’re putting in the coffee, can we import some? The first Infernal plays like The Departed on fast-forward; you get dozens of scenes nearly identical to Scorsese’s, but a running time that’s 50 minutes shorter. Affairs 2 is a decent prequel that downplays its dueling moles while filling in an epic Mob-war backstory. The more intimate finale is part prequel, part sequel — but between an insanely overcomplicated structure and moral equivocating about who’s good or bad, prepare to be baffled about why key players get whacked, and whether to cheer or cry.

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