INFERNAL AFFAIRS II
(15) 119 min
Rush released after the success of its hit Hong Kong crime thriller predecessor, and replacing Asian stars Andy Leung and Tony Cheung with two pretty-boy pop idols, on paper this prequel looked like a disaster-in-waiting. Seriously, would you make a follow-up to Heat with Justin Timberlake and Robbie Williams as the young DeNiro and Pacino?
Seems there was more in directors Andrew Lau and Alan Mak’s minds than just a quick cash-in. True, most of the cast lay dead at the end of Infernal Affairs, so going back in time is a smart way to resurrect your favourite characters. What’s less predictable is their decision to bring back Leung’s triad police mole Ming and Cheung’s undercover cop Chan in their younger incarnations (Edison Chan and Shawn Yue, who had cameos last time out). Now Ming and Chan are merely supporting players on a wider stage.
Inspector Wong (Anthony Wong) and his nemesis Sam (Eric Tsang) are back but this time both have another problem: rival gang lord Ngai (Francis Ng), seeking revenge for the murder of his father. Tossing in numerous other snaking subplots, Lau, Mak and writer Felix Chong go for broke, gambling on an Asian Godfather Part II. Their epic cops ‘n mobsters saga plays out over the years counting down Hong Kong’s Anglo-Chinese handover and if it’s missing the telling social resonance of Coppola’s masterpiece, as well as the Leung / Cheung factor, it’s still far more ambitious, impressive and exhilarating than expected. Bring on Part III.
* * * * (four stars)
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