I love to see all the Hong Kong cinema in the Criterion collection. I hope they do more Jackie Chan beyond Police Story and John Woo’s Bullet in the Head is just sitting there. I’d be happy for Royal Warriors (whole In the Line of Duty series maybe?) but for now, these three classic dramas that inspired The Departed are here.
Revisting them I realize The Departed only took the concept of two moles, so there’s a double threat to the undercover cop story. But the American and Hong Kong films tell their own stories.
The Blu-ray transfer looks beautiful. Opening in a temple, the golden statues shine. You see the film grain in the blue sky, and smokey interrogation rooms are atmospheric.
The first Infernal Affairs has good, subtle surround sounds. The score punctuates in the rear and you hear distant bumps and clanks, but it’s not constant.
It’s interesting they made the sequel a prequel about how both these moles got places and the rise of the criminal organization. Infernal Affairs II looks a tad more washed out. Maybe it’s filtered as a prequel, and again surround sounds are limited to effects like doors closing behind characters.
Infernal Affairs III adds layers to the first story in flashbacks set during it, and deals with the aftermath. It seems to go back to the original aesthetic after the sequel. Surrounds still has doors opening and closing in the rears and chanting on the score. A phone ringing would make you check yours if we still had landlines.
The first film has the most bonus features but each sequel has some, and a lot on the first disc cover the entire trilogy. But it’s always appreciated when series sets give some love to the sequels.
A new directors interview is 38 minutes and covers their career paths, the influence of Face/Off and the casting process through post. It’s interesting to hear the studio wanted more action because it’s not that kind of Kong Hong movie. They touch on The Departed at the end.
A series of 2007 interviews is more reflective about the state of Hong Kong just five years prior. And they’re filmed on location so it’s nice to see Hong Kong in background.
All three films have an EPK from the set, Confidential File which is B-roll, and outtakes or deleted scenes and bloopers. They used to include B roll on everything. The outtakes on the first film show you multiple takes of several scenes. Infernal Affairs II has 4 deleted scenes running 10 minutes.
The commentaries are consistent, scene specific in parts and general in others if you want a really deep dive. Infernal Affairs III has interviews from 2004 with some of the cast.