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Infernal Affairs Trilogy(2002)
Two men. Two moles. Yan is your typical undercover cop, tough, smart, and extremely hard-boiled. Before graduating the police academy, Yan is sent by his official to infiltrate the triads. Ming is one of Hong Kong's most decorated cops. However, his awards and promotions are only illusions. Sam, his triad boss, sent him to join the academy to become an officer. With tips from Sam against their triad rivals, Ming steadily becomes one of Hong Kong's elite. But all things, no matter good or evil, must come to an end. So begins the face-off. Only one man, one mole will survive.
For more about Infernal Affairs Trilogy and the Infernal Affairs Trilogy Blu-ray release, see Infernal Affairs Trilogy Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on December 15, 2010 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Andy Lau, Anthony Wong Chau-Sang, Eric Tsang, Kelly Chen, Sammi Cheng, Edison Chen
Directors: Andrew Lau, Alan Mak
» See full cast & crew
Infernal Affairs Trilogy Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, December 15, 2010
Alan Mak and Lau Wai-keung's "Infernal Affairs" (2002), "Infernal Affairs II" (2003) and "Infernal Affairs III" (2003) arrive on Blu-ray courtesy of British distributors Palisades Tartan. The supplemental features in this collection include an audio commentary with directors Lau Wai-keung and Alan Mak; various standard featurettes; deleted scenes; outtakes; alternate ending; confidential files; and trailers. In Cantonese, Mandarin, and English, with optional English subtitles for the main feature. Region-B "locked".
Lau (Andy Lau, Running Out of Time), an ambitious Hong Kong cop, is ordered to track down a mole in his department who has been leaking crucial information to Sam (Eric Tsang, Bullet and Brain), an influential local gangster. Chan (Tony Leung, In the Mood for Love) is an undercover cop who has been with Sam for years. He reports to Wong (Anthony Wong, Vengeance), the only person in the entire Police Department who knows his true identity. Chan and Wong often meet to discuss various strategies.
After years of pretending to be a gangster, however, Chan is beginning to realize that he is slowly becoming one. Wong believes in Chan and has no doubts that he can complete his mission, but understands that there are powerful personal demons his man is struggling with.
Lau is Sam's mole. Like Chan, he is beginning to feel that his life is changing. Because of Sam he has accomplished a lot but is now having second thoughts about the future of their relationship. Soon, Lau and Chan's paths will cross.
Infernal Affairs II
A little over ten years earlier. The leader of the triads is assassinated. His son, Hau (Francis Ng, Juliet in Love), a soft-spoken and elegant man, immediately takes over his father's empire. Mary (Carina Lau, Days of Being Wild), who is responsible for the death of Hau's father, becomes upset that her husband, Sam (Eric Tsang), who has decided to remain loyal to Hau's family.
Lau (Edison Chen, Sex and Beauties) and Chan (Shawn Yue, Dragon Tiger Gate) are recruited by Sam. After their training is completed, Lau enters the Police Academy and then begins working with Wong (Anthony Wong), while Chan becomes a cop because he is unable to fit in Sam's organization. Eventually, both men become moles.
Infernal Affairs III
Shortly before and after the events seen in Infernal Affairs. Lau is under investigation for his involvement in Chan's death. Sam (Eric Tsang) is in the middle of a tricky business reorganization, partially directed by Shan (Chen Daoming, Aftershock), a cocky mainland gangster looking for a partner in Hong Kong. Yeung (Leon Lai, Fire of Conscience), a highly motivated superintendent, is on a secret mission. Despite respecting and admiring each other, Wong (Anthony Wong) and Sam realize that their relationship is doomed.
What makes the Infernal Affairs trilogy so good is the fact that each film in it explores different themes and focuses on different relationships. Though many of the key characters reappear in the second and third installments, most have different roles, typically expanding the narrative in an entirely new direction.
The first film is a masterful character study overflowing with sizzling action. It has the polished look of a big budget blockbuster but its narrative is uncharacteristically dark and gritty -- this is a powerful mix that a number of contemporary Hong Kong directors have been experimenting with, but thus far only Alan Mak and Felix Chong have been able to present well. Indeed, their script is top-notch.
The cast is loaded with stars. Lau and Leung are terrific as the two moles whose personal lives are slowly beginning to spin out of control. Wong delivers one of the very best performances of his career playing the tough but also emotionally brittle veteran cop.
The second film is even darker. It is also notably slower. There are various complex relationships and plenty of subplots on display in it. The action is toned down substantially but the narrative has the same cynical feel - the game is the same, only the players are different.
The second film also treats Hong Kong as an important character. There are various references about the upcoming historic transition, the island's political system, the uncertainty everyone feels.
The third and final film is shockingly good - it looks as well polished and sleek as the first film, and the cast is simply fantastic. Key revelations from the first film, introduced as scattered flashbacks, are used to link various subplots and add plenty to important relationships that may have previously looked exhausted; there is a lot more to learn for instance about Sam and Wong's relationship so familiarity with the first film is needed. Many former secondary characters, such as Kelly Chen's Dr. Lee, are also brought forward.
In 2003, Infernal Affairs won seven Hong Kong Film Awards, including Best Film, Best Director (Lau Wai-keung and Alan Mak), and Best Actor (Tony Leung). The film also won Film of Merit and Best Actor Awards at the Hong Kong Film Critics Society Awards.
In 2004, Infernal Affairs II won Hong Kong Film Award for Best Original Song (Beyond), and Best Film Award at the Hong Kong Film Critics Society Awards.
In 2004, Infernal Affairs III Film of Merit Award at the Hong Kong Film Critics Society Awards.
Infernal Affairs Trilogy Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, Alan Mak and Lau Wai-keung's Infernal Affairs, Infernal Affairs II, and Infernal Affairs III arrive on Blu-ray courtesy of British distributors Palisades Tartan. Please note that screencaptures 1-6 are from Infernal Affairs, 7-14 from Infernal Affairs II, and 15-19 from Infernal Affairs III.
All three high-definition transfers are good but somewhat inconsistent. Generally speaking, fine object detail is good, especially during the daylight scenes, but some of the indoor and nighttime footage occasionally looks soft. Clarity and contrast levels are also pleasing, but there are certain fluctuations that give Infernal Affairs for instance an edgy look - mild edge-enhancement and background noise constantly pop up; Infernal Affairs II and Infernal Affairs III, however, are a lot easier to tolerate. Some compression artifacts are also present. Again, they are most prominent in Infernal Affairs, though some are also easy to spot in Infernal Affairs II. I also noticed random traces of various mild noise corrections. Color reproduction, however, is rather good - there are a variety of different blues, greens, browns, dark yellows, grays, and blacks; Infernal Affairs III has the healthier colors, followed closely by Infernal Affairs II. There are no serious stability issues. Occasionally some minor background flicker pops up but its presence is not overly distracting. Lastly, I did not see any large damage marks, debris, or stains to report in this review. All in all, while all three films look decent, there is certainly some room for improvement. However, considering the fact that the high-definition transfers used by Palisades Tartan are practically identical to those used by MegaStar for the Hong Kong Blu-ray release of the trilogy, I have to speculate that this is the best treatment these films will have for quite some time. (Note: The three discs in the collection are Region-B "locked". Therefore, you must have a native Region-B or Region-Free PS3 or SA in order to access their content).
Infernal Affairs Trilogy Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There are a total of four audio tracks in the collection - Infernal Affairs has a Cantonese LPCM 5.1 and Cantonese Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks; Infernal Affairs II has a Cantonese DTS-HD Master Audio 6.1 track; and Infernal Affairs III has a Cantonese DTS-HD Master Audio 6.1 track. For the record, each film arrives with optional English subtitles. When turned on, they appear inside the image frame.
The Cantonese LPCM 5.1 track and the two Cantonese DTS-HD Master Audio 6.1 tracks are solid. On all three the bass is potent and well rounded, the rear channels active and very effective, and the high-frequencies not overdone. I was particularly impressed with the Cantonese DTS-HD Master Audio 6.1 track on Infernal Affairs II - there is an excellent range of dynamics, and Chan Kwong Wing's atmospheric soundtrack undoubtedly benefits a lot from the loseless treatment. The dialog on all three films is clean, stable, crisp, and exceptionally easy to follow. Lastly, while viewing the trilogy I did not detect any disturbing pops, cracks, hissings, or audio dropouts to report in this review.
Note: The back cover of this 3BD set indicates that Infernal Affairs II and Infernal Affairs III should also contain individual Cantonese Dolby Digital EX 5.1 tracks. My discs, however, do not have them.
Infernal Affairs Trilogy Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Infernal Affairs Trilogy Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
The Infernal Affairs trilogy contains three remarkably strong gangster films. In fact, I would argue that these are three of the very best films Hong Kong has produced in recent years. If you have only heard about them after seeing Martin Scorsese's The Departed but are yet to see them, consider getting this 3BD set (or the Hong Kong produced 3BD set) as soon as possible. I guarantee you won't be disappointed. RECOMMENDED.
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