Monday, October 30, 2006

I should be out today, enjoying the fine weather and checking out the giant Buddha on Lantau Island. Instead, I'm home and I've just finished watching Infernal Affairs for the first time. Insert obligatory spoilers warning here.

The main reason behind my coach potato state today is that I've finally succumbed to the cold that's been slowly building up over the last few days. I Google'd cold remedies on Friday when I felt the onset of an incredibly painful sore throat, usually the first sign of my falling ill, so that I could recover more quickly to go out with friends over the weekend, but couldn't find anything other than advice to rest, rest and get more rest.

So what did I do? I disregarded that, went out with friends anyway, and chose to attempt to sleep in late over the next few mornings, which were thwarted by either the noise the air-conditioner in this apartment makes (I can't figure out if it's from the aircon, or from water dripping from the apartments upstairs) or having to wake up early to get to church. Either way, I didn't manage to get much sleep over the last few days. So it's no wonder that I'm ill, I hear you scold. Still, what was I to do? I've always been a friends first, health later kind of person, even though my rate of recovery has most definitely been slowing over the years.

Anyway, back to Infernal Affairs. The movie was brilliant. The acting is incredible. Both of the lead actors and both of the supporting actors were nominated for acting awards in the Hong Kong Annual Film Awards in 2002; Tony Leung Chiu Wai (Yan, the undercover cop that has infiltrated the triads) and Anthony Wong (Superintendent Wong) ended up winning. Tony Leung's performance in the scene right after we're confronted by the sight of SP Wong's bloodied body on the roof of the cab is incredible. The mixture of emotions - guilt, fear, respect and love - is so clearly depicted on his face, as well as the struggle to suppress all of this as he's surrounded by triad members... It's just breathtaking.

The build-up was done very well, and although there are some weak areas (most notably the romantic sub-plots of either mole although there is definitely some nice chemistry between Dr. Lee, played by Kelly Chen, and Yan), they don't detract from the overall enjoyment of the show.
The Mandarin title of the the movie, wu jian dao (mo gaan dou in Cantonese), is also a nice touch. It alludes to the eighth - and also, the deepest - circle of hell, according to the Buddhist faith, where people in that circle are made to suffer continuous torment, without ever dying. This concept is first introduced right at the beginning of the show, and is repeated right at the end. It's a good, subtle allusion.

I'm not sure whether The Departed can compare to this, quite frankly. I haven't seen it yet, but I don't think I'm all that keen to check out how Hollywood transformed this into something which would appeal more to American audiences. For one thing, I have heard that there is a lot more blood and violence in The Departed and that's something which I don't particularly enjoy. All the same, I feel as if I should check it out, given the rave reviews that it has received.

I may take a few months though. Watching it right after having watched the original may not be fair to the American version!

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