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Capsule Reviews

Infernal Affairs    (2002)
This is probably the best thriller made in 2002 and not only because there were actually very few thrillers produced this year! The film, obviously made for international markets, gathers the best cast and crew that the HK movie industry could possibly offer (Nansun Shi, Chris Doyle, The Pang Bros.). Brilliant lead actors are supported by very experienced second roles. Not only Tony Leung Chiu-wai is at his best, but Eric Tsang and Anthony Wong performances are impressive for their depth and restraint as well. In addition to that, the script is well written, complicated at time but never confusing. All above points should contribute to make Infernal Affairs a masterpiece. The highest expectations are legitimate but it unfortunately fails to be that great. It's however beautiful, clever at time and even thrilling. The over-stylised aesthetic certainly gives an undeniable value to the movie, but it doesn't always serve the film discourse as a whole. Infernal Affairs is however not a beautiful empty shell, since a few shots are truly brilliant and meaningful (Christopher Doyle is the visual consultant). Two scenes make the film worth watching. The first one is when Anthony Wong is shot in a lobby under very bright and cold white lights. His two-coloured aspect (black & white) illustrates well that he is straightforward and cold-blooded. He keeps his self-control under any circumstances, as he'll demonstrate to the end. Shots of the undercover Tony Leung in the sun-lighted roof are equally magnificent. The deep focus composition used reveals spaces, pushes forward the walls and diminishes the legendary narrowness of HK. Not only it cleverly expresses the will of Tony Leung to reach light and freedom, but also the desire of the filmmakers to stretch the HK space and to open the film industry to the West.
Thomas Podvin 1/15/2003 - top

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