Infernal Affairs

Interest piqued after watching The Departed, I recently watched the films on which it is based - Infernal Affairs and Infernal Affairs II - and now I’m a bit confused. Is Infernal Affairs II a true prequel to the original film or is it more of a loose reimagining using the same characters but set somewhat earlier than the original? It has the same writer, director, many of the same actors reprising their roles and obvious ties to the original film but there were several jarring inconsistencies in storyline, timeframe and especially characterizations and I started to wonder if it was meant to be a loose reworking rather than a true prequel.

I’ve got Infernal Affairs III on the deck to be watched in the next few days too.

It was supposed to be a true prequel.

The thing is that it was re-written after Infernal Affairs I got successful, and the writers decided to do some re-imagining work and add previous unmentioned characterization. Whether it works depends on how much you’re willing to re-visit IA I and re-intepret the scenes with the inconsistencies.

I’ve got Infernal Affairs III on the deck to be watched in the next few days too.

While supposedly a true sequel, it too, will jar you with it’s mischaracterization and loose plot intepretation.

I’m curious, judging solely on the merits on Infernal Affairs I; how do you think it compares to The Departed?

I don’t remember the sequels being very well received.

Departed is much better than Infernal Affairs, both because it doesn’t try the late movie protagonist switch and because it fleshes out the characters a lot more(it has 50 more minutes to do so in). Damon’s IA counterpart just seems crazy. He kills Sam for reasons that aren’t really explained and then has a sudden change of heart, except the change of heart was really 10 years before, except why did he care, and then he kills the other guy and somehow explains it without mentioning that HK DiCaprio was a cop? Departed’s ending was the weakest part, but it was still better than IA’s.

IA just burns through the plot a bit too fast, and it includes some funky plotholes that Departed tries to clear up, though the premise is a better setup and it establishes the crimelord recording and the other mole rather than those coming out of left field.

I just got through all three, although III was the only one I hadn’t seen before. It falls into the category of many other notorious iii’s. II is very acceptable once you are willing to make the compromises it requires…I figure if you are willing to accept the ridiculous lack of resemblance between young Yan and old Yan in IA1, it’s really not that big a deal. For some reason, that was a bigger issue than any of the radical characterization changes that you note.

Now, as far as inconsistencies go, III takes the cake. It jumps back and forth in time, focuses quite often on characters who only would have made sense if they had featured in the previous two films, and has that afterthought quality to all of its scenes, somewhere in between the third Rambo and the third Godfather. Oh, and just for shits and giggles, it throws in totally unnecessary and confusing dream sequence fakeouts and even more ridiculous psychiatric nonsense.

Don’t let me dissuade you from watching it…if you liked the first two it is as necessary to watch the whole thing fall apart in the third as it was to watch Andy Garcia grimace his way through a “passionate” incest love scene with Sofia. But I’m really glad it’s part of a cheap Departed reissue, and not something I paid rare dvd prices for…really does make one appreciate the hollywood interpretation more, in the end.

Uh, what? Man, that almost makes me want to see Godfather III just to find out what the hell you’re talking about…

-Tom
  1. They’re related (cousins, but still related)
  2. They have zero chemistry (of course).
  3. They are forced into awkward forbidden love scenes by Sofia’s director father.

Do you need more reasons? I mean, it comes in the DVD set with the other two, and it is way better than a director commentary or whatever for a look into Coppola’s loony mind.

King! Do not make me rewatch this, but I would have sworn that Garcia was supposed to be Pacino’s illegitimate son, making Sofia and Garcia half-siblings.

“This pope has powerful enemies.”

I liked IA more. The best scene in IA was the morse-code-window-tapping-changing-frequencies scene, which The Departed didn’t copy.

Say, what? Admittedly, Departed had some great acting in it, but Departed is a baggy, droopy, self-indulgent mess where everything doesn’t add up, and Infernal Affairs is a lean, clever b-movie that makes its point and moves on.

The wife and I watched IA for the first time a few months ago, when we were planning on seeing the Departed, and then again a few weeks after, right after watching The Departed, and Infernal Affairs seemed more like the remake of The Departed than the other way around, because it seemed like IA figured out solutions to things The Departed couldn’t solve.

(For example: Mark Wahlberg’s character, whose very presence in the movie renders DiCaprio’s actions in the last third absolutely incomprehensible, in addition to being a character that makes absolutely no sense since he’s shown at every step of the movie as a self-motivated hard-ass who doesn’t take anyone’s reasons at face value until the movie needs him to conveniently disappear for forty minutes. That character alone, who exists only to give studio audiences a grim feel-good “justice is served ending,” ruins any claim that The Departed is a better film.)

Sorry to come down with both feet on you, Ben, but I’m genuinely confused how so many sensible posters here have fallen under the spell of The Departed’s admittedly intoxicating man-musk of manufactured testosterone. It’s some good lines delivered by some great actors from a terrible script of a badly-directed movie.

You wallow in being wrong.

Huh. Google scans seem to indicate my cousins theory is correct, however it could just be one of those subtle details that I missed. You know, since about a case of beer was required to survive the movie.

Either way, the incest is fucking sweet.

“This pope has powerful enemies.”

Ha ha. I’d totally forgotten about the Vatican conspiracy. G3 rocks!

The departed is a self-indulgent, by the numbers Scorsese ganster flick that suddenly remembers half way through that it needs to throw in the major plot points from Infernal Affairs. I know Scorsese needed to get an oscar after being passed over so many times, but I was more suprised when it won best picture than the year titanic won.

Garcia was Sonny’s illegitimate son, making him Sofia’s cousin. Remember that scene where he bit a guy’s ear off for calling him a bastard? Pure Sonny.

Some of your criticisms of The Departed, particularly re: Marky Mark, I agree with…the problem is this: I have now seen IA 2 and IA 3, and am incapable of separating them from the whole. Unlike the Godfather, the sequels mess with the original plot to such an extreme degree that it is far more difficult to separate them from the whole.

Moreover, I find the actor switching and the needless confusion that results to be a big enough problem that it will (guaranteed) break the suspension of disbelief that any first time viewer should have. After years of my wife trying to persuade that all asians do not, in fact, look alike, this movie succeeded beyond her wildest dreams in that capacity. This issue bumps it down from B movie to a movie that I can only recommend to a very select audience, and that pisses me off.

I find the actors and the acting in the Departed far more to my tastes, and not just because I am an incorrigible racist. I think there are plenty of times in my initial viewing of IA1 that I forgave wooden acting and stilted dialogue as a problem arising from my lack of understanding of cultural details and/or intentional character quirks. For every competent actor such as the excellent SP Wong, you are stuck with countless awkward moments between the two main characters. Matt Damon blows his Asian counterpart out of the water, and I would argue DiCaprio does much the same. Sam I like in IA1, less so since having made it through IA2 and 3, and I would say Nicholson’s character is different but not necessarily better. OTOH, the females in IA are universally awful, whereas whats-her-face at least gives acting a try.

The wife and I watched IA for the first time a few months ago, when we were planning on seeing the Departed, and then again a few weeks after, right after watching The Departed, and Infernal Affairs seemed more like the remake of The Departed than the other way around, because it seemed like IA figured out solutions to things The Departed couldn’t solve.

I agree to a certain extent, but I think both movies are riddled with plot holes.
The difference is that in IA I am more able to give them the benefit of the doubt, because of the difficulty I have assimilating cultural peculiarities and the nonexistent budget. The Departed was stuck between a rock and a stupid place as far as the holes in the plot and the rash character decision making, and I think it made do with respect to American sensibilities quite nicely.

Sorry to come down with both feet on you, Ben, but I’m genuinely confused how so many sensible posters here have fallen under the spell of The Departed’s admittedly intoxicating man-musk of manufactured testosterone. It’s some good lines delivered by some great actors from a terrible script of a badly-directed movie.

I believe it is you that have fallen under a spell, that same one that drives the general worship of Asian cinema as better than it actually is because its obscurity and lack of coherence is wrongly pegged as depth.

Oh yeah. That’s what it was. Ah, the ravages of age.

This will make our discussion (and, indeed my analysis of the rest of your post) difficult LK, since I’m only talking about the first IA film and haven’t seen the other two. Unless The Departed is a remake of all of the Infernal Affairs movies, I submit this incapability on your part is actually an acknowledgement on your part that you can’t reasonably be expected to participate in this discussion. (Similarly, if it turns out that The Departed is a remake of more than just the first Infernal Affairs movie, I should probably bow out.)

I assume here you’re talking of just the first movie and not the series? If so, I’m a little confused as to what you’re discussing in the first film. Although the undercover duo have different actors playing them at younger stages, the camera places them in exactly similar positions in the frame or shots during transitions. Are there specific instances in the first film you’re thinking of?

I think you’ll find this argument unsupported in my original post, LK. I said that Infernal Affairs was a lean, clever b-movie, not a “deep” movie. In fact, from what I can tell, we seem to agree on most of the same points–we both think there was better acting in The Departed, and we both give IA more of the doubt with regards to plot holes (and you apparently share some of my frustration Mark Wahlberg’s character). The difference is you seem to think that you’re doing so because you don’t understand cultural differences, and I’m under the spell of Asian cinema worship, whereas I think that it’s because Infernal Affairs is able to engage in the kind of b-movie scenes (like the morse code scene) and leaps in logic that are almost impossible to believe in a-movies and easy to accept in entertaining b-movies.

Ironically, your assumptions in my perception of Asian cinema is precisely how I would peg many people’s responses to the The Departed: “better than it actually is because its obscurity and lack of coherence is wrongly pegged as depth.”

Makes sense. I haven’t seen it since it came out, but I do remember what felt like hundreds of flashbacks to Sonny’s death.

Infernal Affairs is able to engage in the kind of b-movie scenes (like the morse code scene) and leaps in logic that are almost impossible to believe in a-movies and easy to accept in entertaining b-movies.

This is nonsense. They are both movies. They are, in fact, movies about the exact same subject matter. Why does IA get the benefit of the doubt and Departed none?

IA is lean, yes. Clever? Sure. Makes it’s point? Nope. The undercover cop’s actions in both movies are massive, massive plot holes designed to set up a confrontation. At least Departed has the good grace to give the very end a bit of resolution.

What did the mole tell people about what happened in the elevator in IA? “So I went to this building and then I killed these dudes?”

IA figured out solutions to things The Departed couldn’t solve.

For example? Departed figured out a better reason for the mole to kill the crimeboss and a better story for the mole to give the authorities. Everything else was pretty much the same.

IA gets the benefit of the doubt because it was made first, it’s close to an hour shorter, and it isn’t trying to make a sweeping statement about corruption being inextricably woven with government (which I assume Scorsese is, what with his having his last shot be a rat on the sill in front of the legislature). If a movie that’s made first has some problems, and the movie that’s a remake of it has even more problems, I’d submit that it’s a worse film. Subjectively, I also enjoyed Infernal Affairs more, but that’s an easily discountable point since it’s subjective.

I don’t agree. Infernal Affairs I feel makes its point about evil’s ability to compromise the ability to do good–the undercover cop just wants to bring in the undercover criminal at the end and do justice; the undercover criminal wants to be a good cop but he is tied to the deeds he’s done and the people he’s done them for and with. And they’re both fucked, as a resutl. And The Departed doesn’t have any good grace at all, Ben–it’s just trying to give the audience a bit of “justice has been served” panache. It’s really no different than the ending the People’s Republic of China wanted put on IA (it’s an alternate ending available on most DVDs).

I’m sorry, Ben, but that is patently wrong, as the dude who got nominated for Best Supporting Actor in The Departed was portraying a character not even in Infernal Affairs. And again, Wahlberg’s role renders The Departed’s plot more full of holes–substantially. I fear you’ve become so defensive about The Departed that it’s not worthwhile to mention how The Departed merges two different female characters into one role, adds superfluous scenes (such as the first date between Damon’s character and the chick), extraneous documentary footage (shot in the '70s that confuses the continuity) and has Jack Nicholson walking around in his bathrobe holding a severed hand. You would simply say I’m either missing the point, or that was pretty much the same as Infernal Affairs, even though it wasn’t.

If you like The Departed better, that’s fine. It’s got some hilarious dialogue, some great acting, and it looks lovely. But if you think it’s a better movie, you’re going to have to bring more to the game than the two movies are substantially the same but The Departed’s ending makes more sense. Again, because of Wahlberg’s character (to deliver that ending), the entire movie makes less sense.