Directed by Wai Keung Lau andSiu Fai Mak . Hong Kong/China. 2003.

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Infernal Affairs has been a mind-defying trilogy. Hats off to anyone that’s been able to keep up with who’s who, who’s spying on whom, who’s alive and who’s dead and what happens when. There’s a definite Infernal Affairs universe, where good-looking people are sneaky, brave, double-crossing and oh so cool. They also seem to pop up alive when you’re sure they’re not – and no, this isn’t some Hong Kong version of Schrodinger’s cat or a metaphysical exploration of the deepest mysteries of physics, it’s just a deliciously non-linear monster of a saga.

In case you have been keeping up, Infernal Affairs III fluctuates between the temporality of I and II (and in case you haven’t been keeping up – tut tut – II was the prequel to I). Complicated stuff but at the end, the feeling of genius you get from having understood the saga (well, almost) is unparalleled!

So why do we put ourselves through the cog-turning thinkfest that is Infernal Affairs when we could just watch Jackie Chan? I’ll tell you… it’s because the Infernal Affairs movies are, in a word, brilliant. Number III is no exception. Being thoughtful enough to have included a catch-up booklet with the DVD, which means you won’t even be as lost as you thought you would be.

III focuses on the stories of Yan (Tony Leung) and Ming (Andy Lau); Yan – a cop working for Mafia boss Sam and Ming – who used to be Sam’s mole on the police force. Except Ming goes by a different name in III and Yan was killed at the end of I. When the police realise that one of Sam’s moles is killing off the others, they begin an Internal Affairs investigation. Meanwhile, we take a look back at Yan and his problems faced as a mole. In short, it’s a great story, full of betrayals and lies and more lies. It fits nicely in with the two preceding movies, and far from feeling like filler, III has enough revelations to do justice to everything we’ve all been through.

Cinematographically, this movie is wonderful. It’s choc-full of visually-astounding shots, unusual angles and moody use of colour. The score completes the filmic atmosphere. Haunting and suspenseful notes are the perfect accompaniment to scenes which we know are pivotal, fatal or tragic. Infernal Affairs III utilises the zigzagging time-warp of the trilogy to great effect by creating a huge amount of tension because most of the time we know what’s going to happen, have braced ourselves for it and are then shocked by something else along the way.

This movie is so polished, so marvellously engineered and so immaculately scripted that the flawless result fits together perfectly with the tone, style and atmosphere of the two previous movies. It’s like watching a dream (a rather serious and thrilling dream – not one of those woozy, flowy ones) and not ever wanting to wake up.

Shari Last
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