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This Blog Is Called Friday

Because who doesn't love it, thank God for it and want it to arrive sooner?

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thanks tinamishi!
I bet my photos aren't working again. Or is it? Is Andy Lau here?

Here it is upon us, the American version of Infernal Affairs called The Departed, directed by Martin Scorsese. When I first saw the Hong Kong version, it was so good it made talk a lot. (And I already talk plenty!) I just couldn't shut up what a great movie experience it was. Movie fanatic that I am, it is actually rare  for me to have an out-of-body, damn-this-is-a-good-movie sensation inside a theater, and this was one of them. I keep trying to re-live that experience each time I buy a movie ticket, but it doesn't happen as much as I want to. Even with movies with actors I deeply adore in it. Maybe for key moments in a story, but the all-the-way-through ones I can count on one hand.

Infernal Affairs
is the story of  two moles, deep undercover (Andy is a mobster who's infiltrated the ranks of the cops, Tony Leung Cheu-Wai, a policeman taking on the Triads) for nearly 10 years. Tony understandably wants out, the ugliness of his task weighing heavily on his psyche. Andy wants to stay in--he's a smart cop who's life is coming together with a new promotion, new digs and he's newly engaged (to Sammi Cheng, so their chemistry is like gangbusters. Oops. Bad pun. Their chemistry feels genuine).  During a failed drug bust (truly one of the best action set-pieces EVER. The suspense won't let you breathe) it is apparent to both our protagonists' bosses (Eric Tsang, Anthony Wong) that a stooge is in their midst. Now Tony and Andy are tasked to smoke each other, and in a way, themselves, out.

In 90 minutes, Infernal Affairs plays out this story with depth, tackling identity and destiny with insight and  twists that punch you in the gut. It's a perfectly formed, almost geometric creation that wastes no energy, no moment. That this was done with a minumum of violence speaks to the movie's exquisite greatness. (Well, the psychiatrist played by that Kelly actress girl should've been played by someone else. Good thing her buzzkill wasn't enough to affect the movie.) A fandom was born: Andy and Tony gave such superb performances that I inhaled about 20 of their movies in the last two years.  Don't get me started on the sequels. Infernal Affairs III is a complicated puzzle, but boy did it pull out the rug from under me. I was gutted by its very last scene. Ouch.

It's no surprise then, the IA got picked by American producers for a big, splashy remake. Well, big and splashy it was. I was frightened when Martin Scorsese got the call to direct the movie. He is SO the opposite of perfectly formed, almost geometric. He's usually sprawling  and leisurely (that's not the word I'm looking for. But you get the drift).

True enough, The Departed is like a ginormous SUV  to Infernal Affairs'  sleek roadster. If you haven't seen the Hong Kong version, The Departed is actually quite enjoyable.  It was obviously made with care, the dialogue has lots of amusing moments, Leonardo Di Caprio (in the Tony Leung role) has finally returned to his lean, spare acting style (almost. There's a chewy  moment here and there) and and the always-premium Matt Damon (as Andy Lau), especially in the earlier part of the movie, shows the viewer (or just me) something he hasn't shown before: all-out charm. (Could his next movie be a cutesy rom-com? The adorable-ness would be off-the-charts.)

What's missing though, is the pathos (Karen's abused word of 2006) and desperation of Leo's and Matt's predicament. Instead, loads of movietime is spent on Jack Nicholson's gangster. Yeah, the evil behemoth that needed to be brought down and propel the movie forward, but the movie became all. About. That. He hijacks the story, and we learn over and over and over and over again that he is a Nasty Man. He's bad, okay?!!! Instead of confronting the crisis of redefining identity, it's how do we stop the heinous monster that is Jack?

Then there's the awkward plot development of the girl who comes between Leo and Matt (Vera Farmiga's is appealing, but her character makes me furrow my brow), the shocking violence, the two-hour-and-a-half running time (seriously!) and the very final frame of the movie. That gutted me with its LAME-O-SITY. Did the acclaimed Martin S really think that would great? Dude. No.

One thing that Matt and Leo have it better in The Departed? There's no way the two leads would ever sing the movie's theme song, like Tony and Andy did. I confess with no shame though, that the Infernal Affairs' theme is catchy as (eternal) hell.

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and where did karen get to see "the departed" before the rest of us? not on DBD??

Hee, there was a press screening last Saturday. Good thing, because power wasn't restored in BF and I got to spend time in a place that had it. There's another press screening tonight (Monday) at Glorietta. Still interesed in seeing it?

Also, it's cool you found me. But how did you know I was here?

few lang non-chinese speaking andy lau fans na kilala ko hehe

And that? Is a bad thing! I vote Andy Lau to be the next Bond villain! International superstar (a billion Mainland Chinese will watch it) + off-the-charts charisma + Daniel Craig = Super duper bigtime blockbuster. And a very happy details later! Call me, EON productions!

hehe of course its not a bad thing.. just easier for me to spot who you are lang :P

completo ka na ba sa mga DVDs nya?

I'm so late to the Andy party, eh

Heh, I don't mind being easier to spot because I'm a non-chinese andy lau fan. I feel special! Thanks! :-) May our tribe increase!

No complete, sir. Well, at least I arrived at the party when he was doing his really good movies. None of his cheezy 80s stuff. Much. ;-)

I have maybe 20 movies of Andy. Collected in a span of 24 months. I confess it with no shame!

Re: you ha

Hey, Hungry Alien! :)

I'm one of them non-Chinese people who like Andy Lau--and other HK actors like Tony Leung, Daniel Wu (yum!) and Leon Lai. (BTW: So. Should the HK movie industry now be merged with the Chinese movie industry? And should we call the HK pop superstars "Chinese pop superstars" now? Discuss.)

But I'm not as obsessed as Karen though. Maybe because I've been exposed to them HK actors in their dorky movies, hehehe---Terrie

i think since canto-speaking sila.. so hk actors pa rin sila :P

Re: you ha

Aba! Pinatulan ang aking tongue-in-cheek question! :) Good answer, btw.--Terrie


Man, I KNEW there was a reason I wasn't MORE excited about this flick. *grumble grumble* I was thisclose to buying the pirated DVD.

Wait, wait, wait:

>>>It's no surprise then, the IA got picked by American producers for a big, splashy remake. Well, big and splashy it was. I was frightened when Martin Scorsese got the call to direct the movie. He is SO the opposite of perfectly formed, almost geometric. He's usually sprawling and leisurely (that's not the word I'm looking for. But you get the drift). <<<

HA, HA! exactly! I so don't get his hype. (also love the metaphor of the "ginormous SUV") But after reading your review, I reeeeeally wanna watch part 3! Can I just exchange World Without Thieves for it? :D

Andy has never been more beautifully photographed in World Without Thieves though. Horrible wig and all. (It's a wig—it's part of the plot!) Cue: Sam's reaction upon seeing the movie. *Sam nods*

That is until All About Love. There, he's gorgeously photographed. The entire movie is. But the story? Hallmark sap all the way. Dear Lord. But: GORGEOUS.

So take your pick: Pretty Andy or Pathos (tm Karen 2006) Andy.

Did you see my fellow blogger, the Feder-Bear. He didn't need to be kulit to blog. And he's a bear!

What's the one where he's terminally ill? is that it?

I wanna bowwow Infernal Affairs 3 :D Pathos (TMKAREN2006) Andy it is! Or maybe I should just watch it all in one go, when I'm free?

I am looking around, far and wide, and will find you an avatar with HIM and THE BEAR. Just you wait.

Pathos, yep, The Departed certainly lacked that. I also thought that the duality aspect of Infernal Affairs (Andy's yin to Tony's yang or vice versa), and the attendant confusion that goes with conflicting destinies was sort of lost in this movie. There's no internal conflict going on. The Departed ended up becoming a gangster flick. Nothing wrong with that, really. I happen to like ganster movies, but if that was the case, why the heck did Scorsese bother to even have IA as his template?

I also think there should have been more scenes with the two leads in it--same as in the original movie--just to show how their fates hewed close together yet become/are totally diverged. There's no elegant scene like when Tony and Andy sat inside a music store listening to an old Chinese song. That one scene alone is worth several meters of film of Jack's scenery-chewing excess.

It must be a Buddhist thing. That's how I interpret it. See, in IA III, there's a line that I thought summed up the whole series (even IA II): about how fate cannot be changed by the actions of individuals. That's pathos right there. And internal conflict. That's what moves the characters along. In Scorsese's movie, destiny was replaced by...Jack Nicholson! He's the reason for all the action/reaction in that movie. And that's why it didn't live up to the original. Coz Jack don't know jack. Hahaha! --- Terrie

"Coz Jack don't know jack. Hahaha!"

Oh… That? Is gooooooood! Would have certainly been awesome title for this entry!

Total word to all that you said. See how rich the original IA story turned out to be? It's got LEVELS, man.

Yes, more Leo and Matt scenes. Less Jack at the opera + orgy scenes. So much to explore and they left it to do whiz bang gangster stuff. If it was a mere gangster flick, The Departed is pretty good going. Watch it be seen in those terms in all the US reviews. They will lurve it. If Jack wins another nomination (or wins… Shudder), well hands off to any more Great Hong Kong flicks for Martin Scorsese. EVER.

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