Infernal Affairs (2002)


Infernal Affairs, directed by Andre Lau and Alan Mak is a Hong Kong Action film of a police man who infiltrated a triad. On the filpside, a triad member has infiltrated the police.This film has won the Best Film title and seven other awards during the 22nd Hong Kong Film awards, beating Hero1In an interview, Alan Mak shared that Infernal Affairs was inspired by a movie he watched in 1998: Face/Off.

Throughout Internal Affairs, I was kept at the edge of my seat, my heart beating fast, and I even had my hands held close together to my chest, anticipating what would happen next (and all the graphic scenes, my heart could not take it..)! I had even told my friends that I found Infernal Affairs more frightening than The Maid

Christopher Dolye was the cinematographer for this film (he also worked on Hero!), who aided with the colours and visual tones. The colours in this film were mostly cool toned, green and blue, and they also contrasted very well with the skin tones of the people in the film.

I found that there was a difference in the ending of the film, as with the Hong Kong version, and the one distributed to China:

Original Hong Kong version (includes rather graphic scenes):

Ending scene for China’s theaters (includes rather graphic scenes):

The reason for the difference in endings is because China wanted Lau (the triad member acting as the policeman) to be punished for his illegal activities.

I found some of the scenes to be very graphic (all the blood and gunshot wounds), having to cover my mouth in disgust and shock… And well, this scene here just broke my heart and made my eyes water:

Screen Shot 2017-05-29 at 8.16.20 PM

One of the main thoughts I had after watching this film was the question of identity.

Is your identity really based on your ID?

In the society shown in this film, the characters have to prove to others who they are through the use of identity cards/ documents. For example, in the last scene after Lau has shot the other mole-cop in the lift, he exits the lift with his arms up and holding his police identification card. Also in another scene, Lau could simply delete Yan’s police profile in the database and he will not be recognised as a police officer anymore.

Screen Shot 2017-05-29 at 8.54.13 PM

It is interesting that in the film, the characters must be able to read and communicate through different codes to outdo the other team (be it police or triad). Sometimes, only technology is not enough, as they had to revert to Morse code to share critical information, and even for an important password.

Something to think about:

What defines you? Is it your current situation, your actions/ past actions, your identification documents, or the thoughts you have in your heart?



1^ “List of Awardees of The 22nd Hong Kong Film Awards”. Hong Kong Film Awards. Retrieved 27 May 2017.



3 thoughts on “Infernal Affairs (2002)

  1. Very well written! I agree with you that this show is more frightening(in a better way) then ‘The Maid’! – That being said I would rather watch this film again then The Maid though..

    I really like your question: “Is your identity really based on your ID” The film focuses on how being on the opposite side of job can make you become incline to join them, reminding me that our identity can only be define by ourselves.

    Great post! I really enjoyed reading it and it gave me a lot to think about and made me look at this film differently yet again.


  2. I like how you took an interesting comparison of this movie with a horror film such as The Maid. Despite it’s difference in genre, I agree that the action scenes were really thrilling and some did take me by surprise.

    Infernal Affairs did have a consistent mise-en-scene throughout the film: conveying some sort of vibe/aura of seriousness with its cool tones. I guess Christopher Dolye, the director of the film, along with his use of colours/tones in his films does tell me about his obsession in terms of his auteurship in cinematography.

    Your point where you identified the difference in the endings from the original film as compared to the one remade in China is definitely applaudable. This highlights the line that draws the differences in system in China and Hong Kong. From my perspective, I feel that the reason why China would change it’s ending is to ensure that the perception the people should have on the police should only be positive. Then again, this questions their way of ruling their country and how the government shapes the thinking of people. Does this mean they are promoting propaganda in a way?

    Overall, I enjoyed your analysis. It was very thorough in the sense that you managed to identify the small bits and pieces of the movie that many spectators may have missed out on. Keep up the good work!


  3. When you mentioned that Infernal Affairs is more frightening than The Maid, I suppose it’s the thrilling action aspect and the gore theme that makes it crazily ‘thrilling’ for you. But I do definitely enjoy that more than The Maid HAHA!

    Very interesting view of “Is your identity really based on your ID?”! I did not come across that this might be one of the possible message that the director is trying to convey. I would say that as professional or important personnel (e.g. police), ID is something that represent the weight they carry as their responsibility as the protector of Hong Kong.

    But what truly defines you, I guess I would go with the thoughts I have in my heart. Without it, other materialistic things would not matter. Kudos once again!


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