At SIFF 2004, I saw an acclaimed trilogy from Hong Kong, Infernal Affairs, Infernal Affairs-II, and Infernal Affairs-III on three consecutive nights, Yan is a cop who’s been in deep cover for ten years, infiltrating the triads. Lau is a triad who joined the cops about ten years ago, rising to the rank of inspector. Only their respective bosses, Superintendant Wong and Big Sam, know who they are. Each becomes aware of the other about the same time, and the chase to find the moles is on.
It’s a tense and complex thriller and a meditation on good and evil. Yan has long blurred the line between cop and gangster. Lau is having second thoughts about being beholden to his old gang boss. Both men are in quiet agony, hating the deception and the danger.
I just watched the first movie again on NetFlix, and it holds up well. The other two movies are further down our queue. IA-II is a prequel, showing Lau and Yan as young men just setting out on their long-term infiltrations. IA-III is a sequel to IA-I.
Martin Scorcese has remade IA as The Departed, due out later this year.