Infernal Affairs

2002  |  Cantonese  |  35mm  |  Color  |  100min  |  Chinese Subtitle

Director: Andrew Lau, Alan Mak.Scriptwriter: Alan Mak, Felix Chong.Cinematographer: Andrew Lau, Lai Yiu-fai.Editor: Danny Pang, Pang Ching-hei.Art Director: Choo Sung-pong, Wong Ching-ching.Costume: Lee Pik-kwan.Music: Chan Kwong-wing.Sound: Kinson Tsang

Cast: Tony Leung Chiu-wai, Andy Lau, Anthony Wong, Eric Tsang

Producer: Andrew Lau.Production: Basic Pictures.World Sales: Media Asia Distribution


A slick, star-packed crime thriller pitting an undercover cop versus a triad mole in the police force, Infernal Affairs became one of the highest-grossing Hong Kong films of all time, won multiple film awards across Asia, and was finally remade in Hollywood by Martin Scorsese as the Oscar-winning The Departed. Andrew Lau and Alan Mak’s gripping, brilliantly-acted blockbuster is widely regarded as a technical, artistic, and cultural high watermark for Hong Kong cinema.

Date:   18/4 (Tuesday)

Time:   9:45PM

Venue:   HK Science Museum Lecture Hall

Free admission for all screenings. Tickets are available to public on-site 30 minutes prior to each screening on a first-come, first served basis. Limit to one ticket per person.

[Interview] The film’s cinematography is quite distinctive. Was that Christopher Doyle’s contribution?

I love the tone of the film, which is quite similar to As Tears Go By, which I shot. In my discussions with Christopher Doyle, I asked him: since we’re now in the 21st century, could we add something new to the basics? So he made some tests for me on how to use the non-bleach process, how to push the colors, how to use different filmstock. We tested and experimented with the look of the film.

More than a third of Infernal Affairs is shot with daylight, which is the opposite of As Tears Go By.

You could say I was acting at cross-purposes. People think that undercover cops are mysterious creatures, but they’re also human beings. Here’s what I think about undercover cops: even though I am working undercover, I can still see the light. Therefore, I designed the rooftop meetings. You could look out to the edge of the horizon. There are fire exits and gondolas—they provide some sense of security to these characters. When I made To Live and Die in Tsimshatsui (1994), the whole film was invariably dark. I deliberately wanted a breakthrough.

Is there a reason for adding more scenes between Lau and Leung in the script?

This is a commercial consideration. There were only one or two scenes between them in the original script. I believe you have to satisfy both the audience and the actors. Therefore, I told Alan to add more scenes. As producer, I calculated very recisely how many scenes ought to be added: six more scenes between Lau and Leung, and three more scenes among the four stars.

Interview with Andrew Lau

How did Andrew Lau work with you as co-director?

He’s a director who works like a producer; he’s a strong driving force on the set, thus saving time on the production. He assumes all of these responsibilities, including cinematography. I concentrate on actors’ dialogue as well as the rhythm of the performances.

How was the visual style determined?

That’s not mine, and it’s not Andrew Lau’s. It came from the script. I wrote it from the perspective of a director, and all the images were meticulously described, even including editing. Andrew understood all of that.

Interview with Alan Mak, Hong Kong Panorama 2002–2003