Blu-Ray Review: The Infernal Affairs Trilogy

While Hong Kong is geographically small, it has always punched well above its weight. It became one of the biggest financial centres in the world. Space is at a premium and it can feel like they built upwards towards the stars; which can be a dizzying experience. Its status has sadly changed since the Chinese government decided the one country, two systems approach wasn’t for them anymore.

In the 1970s, the former British colony’s film industry began to flourish. Competition between the two main languages, Cantonese and Mandarin, seemed to spur filmmakers on. Martial arts films began to gain traction abroad, while a new wave of crime cinema started turning heads as we neared the end of the century. The likes of John Woo’s The Killers and Ringo Lam’s City on Fire, not to mention the work of Johnnie To. This phenomenon didn’t escape the attention of Hollywood, with Martin Scorsese remaking Infernal Affairs into the Oscar-winning The Departed. Criterion brings the trilogy together with a new 4K digital restorations.

Infernal Affairs

A police academy recruit (Chan – Tony Leung) is used by Superintendent Wong (Anthony Wong) to infiltrate Hon Sam’s (Eric Tsang) crime empire. However, the kingpin has a mole of his own (Lau – Andy Lau) on the force. Lau and Alan Mak’s brilliant cat and mouse thriller keeps twisting and turning to the very end. For my money, it’s still superior to the remake. Significantly so.  

Infernal Affairs II

The prequel follows the battle of wits between Wong and Sam through the fortunes of a couple of young moles (Edison Chen and Shawn Yue). While Lau and Mak’s follow-up lacks some of the style and cinematic pizzazz of the original, it benefits from introducing more of a political angle; in the form of events surrounding the handover. In my mind, it’s is equal to, if not better.

Infernal Affairs III

The last, and weakest, entrance into the trilogy focuses on Lau as he undertakes a number of extreme measures to avoid detection. At the same time, he struggles with guilt over Chan. This time he has competition from Superintendent Yeung (Leon Lai) who continually tries to outsmart him. The final instalment re-treads familiar ground and whilst it’s entertaining, in parts, it relies too much on flashbacks and can be overwrought.


  • New 4K digital restorations, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtracks
  • Audio commentaries for Infernal Affairs and Infernal Affairs II featuring codirectors Andrew Lau Wai-keung and Alan Mak and screenwriter Felix Chong Man-keung
  • Alternate ending for Infernal Affairs
  • New interview with Lau and Mak
  • Archival interviews with Lau, Mak, Chong, and actors Andy Lau Tak-wah, Tony Leung Chiu-wai, Anthony Wong Chau-sang, Kelly Chen Wai-lam, Edison Chen Koon-hei, Eric Tsang Chi-wai, and Chapman To Man-chak
  • Making-of programmes
  • Behind-the-scenes footage, deleted scenes, and outtakes
  • Trailers
  • New English subtitle translations
  • PLUS: An essay by film critic Justin Chang

The Infernal Affairs Trilogy is released on Blu-ray by as part of the Criterion Collection in the UK on 28 November.

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