The Criterion Voyages (Spine #1159): The INFERNAL AFFAIRS Trilogy -- More Important Hong Kong Action Cinema Added to the Collection
By Sean Boelman
Many viewers likely recognize the first Infernal Affairs film thanks to its enormous legacy, but fewer cinephiles have gotten the chance to see and appreciate the two other movies in the original franchise. Criterion’s box set of the Infernal Affairs trilogy allows cinephiles to bring home all three films on Blu-Ray, or perhaps even discover them for the first time.
The first Infernal Affairs is perhaps one of the most acclaimed movies to ever come out of Hong Kong — its story of a mole and an undercover cop trying to outwit each other and figure out whose allegiances lie where entertaining audiences worldwide. Thanks to a perfect whirlwind of Andrew Lau and Alan Lak’s direction, Andy Lau and Tony Leung’s acting, and a sharp script, it became a global sensation.
The influence of Infernal Affairs has stretched internationally, to the point of inspiring Martin Scorsese’s Best Picture-winning crime saga, The Departed. Although the film had already received some recognition thanks to its warm critical reception, this remake catapulted it into the spotlight and cemented it as an important movie in cinematic history.
Infernal Affairs would also kickstart a series in Hong Kong with two more feature films that had been much less widely available internationally until Criterion put out this box set. Infernal Affairs II, a prequel following the younger versions of the characters as they first embed themselves into the triad and the police force, the movie does lack the starring duo of Leung and Lau.
Leung and Lau would return for Infernal Affairs III, a true sequel to the first film, which was still not as acclaimed as the first movie but still very enjoyable. Released in the same year as Infernal Affairs II, this had all the potential of becoming an event trilogy a la The Matrix, but suffered the same fate of giving audiences too much too quickly.
All three of the films are presented in beautiful new 4K restorations that were released in theaters earlier this year. And while there are only a handful of new bonus features, the relative unavailability of the sequels in the United States means that these materials will largely feel brand new to audiences.
Now that audiences across the world finally have the opportunity to easily access the remaining two movies in the Infernal Affairs trilogy, this Criterion box set is one that any cinephile will want to add to their shelves. Criterion has recently been showing a commitment to releasing important Hong Kong action cinema, and this was a natural progression.
The Criterion edition of the Infernal Affairs trilogy is now available.
The Snake Hole
Retrospectives, opinion pieces, awards commentary, personal essays, and any other type of article that isn't a traditional review or interview.