Hong Kong Film
A New Type of a Hero in the Film ‘Infernal Affairs’ Movie Review
The budgets of most films are relatively limited, which means that Asian filmmakers have to rely mainly on the fascination of the stories, the charisma of stars, and the skills of directors. Regardless of all these facts, movies in Asia can be shot and loved. In their arsenal, there are many motion pictures that the Asian people can be proud of. One of these is ‘Infernal Affairs.’ The latter is a Hong Kong film, which was produced in 2002, directed by Andrew Lau and Alan Mak. Hong Kong movies have always paradoxically combined fantasy and stylistic ingenuity with social realism. ‘Infernal Affairs’ has become one of the highest-grossing films in the history of American rentals collecting almost $ 170 million. The box office success of the film ‘Infernal Affairs’ in Asia convinces that the Hong Kong filmmakers have brilliantly achieved the goal of modeling the hero of their time.
The directors, Andrew Lau and Alan Mak have worked on this project for two years. They produced the super-cash trilogy ‘Infernal Affairs, ’ the first part of which is called ‘Double Castling, ’ where the leading actors of the Hong Kong cinema starred, namely Andy Lau, Tony Leung, Anthony Wong, and Eric Tsang (Rawnsley 534).
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The plot is not complicated, but it is of interest to different audiences. The main characters of the film are two young men. They are peers and schoolmates, who chose divergent paths: one of them decided to save people’s lives and fight against crime, while the other one engaged in the mafia, robbing and killing innocent individuals in order to satisfy their ambitions and greed. One day, they swap their places: the policeman is introduced to the mafia to collect data, while the former delinquent is sent to work in the police to prevent the disclosure of the bossВ’s criminal actions. Each of them is compelled to extract information in any way without disdaining any means. Consequently, two schoolmates risk their lives and freedom. They are both forced to put on a mask and cover from their real nature and factual thoughts. Only in such a manner, they would be able to perform the task, to stay alive, and, if they are successful, to expose the traitor, who, ironically, is on both sides. According to the plot of the first and the best part of the trilogy, each of the heroes is given the mission to unmask the other one, which ultimately implies the need to reveal oneself.
The central thesis of the film is the impoverishment of being a ‘mole’ in the hero of Tony Leung, who is ensured by a secret kinship with one of the leaders of the triad. Thus, this secret is uncovered when the character enters the police academy dreaming of becoming a ‘good person. ’ The key idea is aimed at showing the viewer how throughout the movie the main hero becomes a ‘mole’ and how he fights and takes it for granted. The motion picture was a great success, because the historical accession of Hong Kong to China on July 1, 1997, not only changed the political situation but also completely removed new worries and unrest. They were associated with another quality of collective existence and with an indispensable redistribution of the spheres of political and social influence. In these conditions, a spectator’s order was formed for a different type of hero, whom the Hong Kong cinema presented to the audience. In the film, the viewer can see the streamers simulating the new hero of their time; this is why the idea is true. The most impressive is the first scene of ‘Infernal Affairs’. Ranting to a group of his young ‘fighters,’ the mafia boss believes that they are absolutely free to choose their future, and briskly completes the tirade: ‘So, guys, I wish you successful service in the police!’ (‘Infernal Affairs’ 00:04:50-00:04:55). Hence, these words appear to be true, and soon one of the В‘molesВ’ (Tony Leung) enters the Police Academy; it is necessary because now he appears to be not a bandit, but an officer of the law undercover. The other one (Andy Lau) successfully makes a career and in a short time becomes the head of the department, while working regularly for the gang of Sam. All of such emotionally profound events are accompanied by music and color effects, which make impressions of the movie brighter and more versatile
In addition, it should be noted that music plays a significant role in the perception of the film and its episodes. Moreover, the music carries a huge emotional aspect of the reception of the motion picture by the audience. The movie has a gorgeous soundtrack and the tracks are acclaimed to be perfect since they helpfully immerse in the film. After all, it is possible to assume that if the instrumental music by Chan Kwong-Wing is removed, ‘Infernal Affairs’ will lose its psychological impact on the viewer. The influence of musical compositions on the trilogy is difficult to overestimate. They convey the whole tension of the storyline, for instance, the tragic fate of the main characters, their psychological state, and the dramatic nature of specific events in the film. The slow tragic tune composed by Chan Kwong-Wing accompanied by the vocals of Fiona Fang can make anyone cry and experience all the emotions the directors aimed at transmitting.
Additionally, particular attention is to be given to visual series and special effects. The sharp and dynamic editing creates a tense atmosphere, which is further adorned with an excellent soundtrack. Being lumped together with Kwang-wing’s music, special effects, as well as the camerawork, excellently worked together. The movie itself is produced in the spirit of the time-honored 80s. The minimalism of camera shooting only involves viewers in the drama of one main character and the greatness of another one. Besides, in ‘Infernal Affairs’, the essence of special effects and unexpected angles would not be extremely exciting if they were not combined with suitable music and soundtracks. Surprisingly, with all the dynamism a touch of meditation still remains, when watching the movie. In the film, not only all kinds of modern technologies are applied, but also savvy (for instance, Morse code on a mobile phone, the predicament of leaving the house blocked by the bandits without jumping over the 10-meter abyss to the next one, as it can be seen in some spy movies). Various details are interesting, however, fortunately, the viewer does not need to rack their brains, for instance, the inscription on the package as well as the memories of the main characters. Furthermore, the movie В‘Infernal AffairВ’ is a rare case in the Hong Kong film industry, when the authors forgot about the box office. Hence, both music and design compound created an unforgettable impression on the audience due to the over-emotionality of the effects and their coincidence with the plot elements.
In the Western press, the trilogy is often compared to the film ‘Godfather,’ but this juxtaposition is superficial (Rawnsley 535). The essence of ‘Infernal Affair’ concerns not so much the mafia and its ‘godfathers,’ but more the new hero, who is called here a ‘mole’ and who became the outstanding hero of the crime movie genre. In the jargon of the criminal world, the word ‘mole’ means an ‘informer’ or a ‘duck.’ As a matter of fact, in ‘Infernal Affairs’, there are two ‘moles’.
Moreover, in ‘Infernal Affairs’ being a ‘mole’ is a destiny, i.e. a life sacrificed to pretense, an inner drama of a split personality. Therefore, it is no accident that in the third part of the trilogy it is shown how both main characters try to solve their mental problems with the help of a psychiatrist and how ridiculous these issues appeared to be). The film contributes to something unique because of the plot, its creation, special effects, and soundtracks. Hence, as the reviewed movie demonstrates, modern Hong Kong is a chaos and a realm of cruelty as well as mass and rapid extermination of members of old clans, in addition to a monstrous re-division of the spheres of influence. In this regard, it is the ‘mole,’ who has a chance for relatively long life. If he gets used to being a ‘mole,’ then he agrees to erase the former identity in favor of the one required by new circumstances.
In conclusion, it should be emphasized that the success of the trilogy proves that the Hong Kong viewer is seized with nostalgia for the past of the cinema and the former vision of the characters. The public welcomes those who do not support the eternal ‘moles’ that do not want to forget about the former heroic individualism and protest against the identity imposed by someone from the outside. In this case, at the contemporary stage in the history of the Hong Kong crime motion pictures, the audience chooses those heroes who still adhere to their old values preferring a lonely, but beautiful life to the pointless fuss in the boring society. The movie ‘Infernal Affairs’ was a great success. In fact, it became a ram, which the Hong Kong cinema re-broke its gates with into the Asian and global markets convincingly demonstrating that the rumors of its death were greatly exaggerated and it remains the influential worldwide film industry.