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Andrew Lau and Alan Mak's Infernal Affairs - The Trilogy

Gina Marchetti

Publication Year: 2007

In this book, Gina Marchetti explores the way this example of Hong Kong's cinematic eclecticism has crossed borders as a story, a commercial product and a work of art; and has had an undeniable impact on current Hong Kong cinema.

Published by: Hong Kong University Press, HKU

Series: New Hong Kong Cinema


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pp. v-vi

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Series Preface

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pp. vii-ix

The New Hong Kong cinema came into existence under very special circumstances, during a period of social and political crisis resulting in a change of cultural paradigms. Such critical moments have produced the cinematic achievements of the early Soviet cinema, neorealism, the nouvelle vague, the German cinema in the 1970s and, we can now say, the recent Hong Kong cinema. If this cinema ...

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pp. xi-xii

I am particularly grateful to my editor at Hong Kong University Press, Colin Day, who is a man of remarkable vision and energy with a sincere commitment to Hong Kong film. I also would like to thank the New Hong Kong Cinema Series editors, Stephen Teo, Mette Hjort, Wimal Dissanayake, and Ackbar Abbas for their support of this volume. I called on the good will and sharp eyes of several ...

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1. Introduction: The New Wave and the Generic Abyss

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pp. 1-8

A classic story of cops, robbers, and the difficulty of telling them apart, Infernal Affairs deals with the tale of two moles — one a triad in the police force and the other an undercover officer in the gangs. As a figure of the imagination, the mole has taken hold on global screens. The character embodies the predicament of hidden and ...

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2. Forgotten Times: Music, Memory, Time, and Space

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pp. 9-50

.After going their separate ways from the police academy, Chan (Tony Leung) and Lau (Andy Lau) meet in a stereo store. Neither recognizes the other (Still 2.1). Chan, who exploits the store for protection money and uses it as a drug drop, plays the role of proprietor, when the owner steps out. Lau, off-duty, dressed neatly in a button-down shirt, takes on the persona ...

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3. Allegories of Hell: Moral Tales and National Shadows

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pp. 51-95

Given the space in Hong Kong films mirrors the “uneven development” of the city itself, the mise-en-scène of Infernal Affairs includes spaces associated with the traditional (e.g., 10,000 Buddha Temple), the modern (e.g., colonial-era buildings), and the postmodern (e.g., the mélange of non-places within the urban fabric of Hong Kong) ...

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4. Postmodern Allegory: The Global Economy and New Technologies

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pp. 97-115

All of the signifiers of modernity only go one way — down — in Infernal Affairs. The elevator, riddled with bullet holes, which boxes in Lau with Chan’s and Billy’s corpses embodies the hellish trap of modern life that can only descend. SP Wong falls from the heights of a modern office building only to land crushed on a taxi ...

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5. Identity as Static: Surveillance, Psychoanalysis, and Performance

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pp. 117-153

Within postmodernity, the integrity of the individual body fractures. The cell phone distances the body and the voice, and the voice becomes a ghostly echo from the past circulating through machinery like Tsai Chin’s “Forgotten Times.” In Infernal Affairs III, Lau becomes obsessed with controlling the voice; i.e., with finding and destroying ...

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6. Thieves and Pirates: Beyond “Auteur” Cinema

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pp. 155-168

Infernal Affairs self-consciously reflects on its use of clichés. At the climactic moment that Lau finds himself under Chan’s gun in Infernal Affairs I, he remarks on the clichéd nature of their encounter by asking, “Do all undercover cops like rooftops?” Even phrases like “Sorry, I’m a cop” are repeated ...

Appendix 1: Plot Summaries

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pp. 169-175

Appendix 2: Interview with Andrew Lau and Alan Mak

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pp. 177-184


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pp. 185-202


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pp. 203-210

E-ISBN-13: 9789888052035
Print-ISBN-13: 9789622098015

Page Count: 224
Illustrations: 59 b/w images
Publication Year: 2007

Series Title: New Hong Kong Cinema
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OCLC Number: 650586934
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Subject Headings

  • Mai, Zhaohui, 1965- -- Criticism and interpretation.
  • Motion pictures -- China -- Hong Kong.
  • Liu, Weiqiang, 1960- -- Criticism and interpretation.
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