The Netflix Report

Movie reviews from my Netflix queue. Highly personal and opinionated!

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Monday, April 17, 2006

Infernal Affairs

This movie really surprised me. It’s a Hong Kong action/thriller and I thought it would be very chop-socky with lots of violence and martial arts. Nothing could be further from the fact. It’s more of a psychological thriller in the best tradition of “cat and mouse” movies.

A major crime boss and the superintendent of police in Hong Kong have each placed an inside agent in the other’s organization and each realizes it. Now they have to race each other to find the mole in order to win in their ongoing battle of law versus crime. Of course the two double agents end up being given the task of ferreting out the traitor within their own areas of fake loyalty (Confused? They have to find themselves and report it to their fake boss!)

I found the first thirty minutes to be very confusing and demanding of a lot of concentration as they set up the back story and the early years of placement of each double-agent. As young men, the two stars look somewhat alike (at least to this ignorant Caucasian) and I had a tough time following who was who as they progress up the ranks. But that all goes away as soon as we move to “present time” and everything is clear and well played out as the two adversaries face an inevitable showdown.

The production values are first rate and look very slick. The most amazing trick may have been to make Hong Kong look like the movie’s characters were the only people in Hong Kong. I can’t believe all the rooftop, street, and building scenes where you don’t see any of the normal crush of humanity present in that city!

This is a very good example of the genre and recommended if you like nail biters. Subtitles are clear and understandable, although there is an English-dubbed audio track if you prefer that. Extras on the DVD are boring and not worth the time. Except there is an interesting alternate ending to wrap up the film. I believe they went with the better choice in the released version.

This is not a kid-friendly movie. There are a couple of scenes of gunshot violence and death. No sex or nudity. Not much swearing, surprisingly.

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