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Infernal Affairs [2004] [DVD]
Infernal Affairs [2004] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Andy Lau
Price: £14.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The reason you need to be watching world cinema., 7 Dec. 2011
Infernal Affairs is the first of a super smart, breath-taking crime trilogy. Some may even say it's Asia's answer to the West's Godfather trilogy, and yes, it is good enough to merit that comparison.

The film is set in Hong Kong and focuses on Inspector Lau and the Triad Chan, in what is basically a tale of cops and robbers. Except, things aren't so simple, because both Chan and Lau are undercover. Lau being a mole for the Triads, working for the police; Chan actually being a deep-cover police officer, infiltrating the Triads.

The film is all about the two and their struggle to uncover the other. They are each aware of the other's existence and their life depends on 1) not being discovered and 2) finding the other's identity. It's a teeth-gritting, unbearably tense game of Cat and Mouse.

Things become complicated though, as the pressures of living a lie, detached from his reality, begin to gnaw at Chan's resolve, and Lau too grows wary, tired of being a mere Triad puppet, especially now that his life is going so well: promotion and fatherhood looming.

As the two become more and more exhausted, really, the only question is who will make the inevitable and fatal mistake of revealing their identity?

Lau and Chan's fight for survival, the struggle they both go through, hooks the viewer's sympathy and provides two fantastic characters, who keep you with them all the way to the very final scene. And it really pays off. Infernal Affairs doesn't chicken-out of a definitive ending, and this makes for one of the best finales of any film I have seen- ever.

At this point, you may be thinking this all sounds pretty familiar. And as you should! Martin Scorcese's brilliant 'The Departed' (featuring Matt Damon and Leonardo DiCaprio in the respective starring roles) is an American adaptation of the Infernal Affairs trilogy. Quite often, I have a massive problem with Americanisations, but Scorcese's is different. He adds something to the movie that wasn't present in the original. Scorcese adds a rough edge to the film: grittiness, his watermark.

The original Infernal Affairs is a cold film: the actors preferring to show the characters' depth implicitly, rather than the American version's preference of in-your-face irruptions. The performances of the original's stars are so much subtler than the American leads that they seem like entirely different characters (Mark Wahlberg's character seemingly added to give the film a token prick- so, well cast obviously). Where Andy Lau's portrayal of Inspector Lau will show him stoically reflect, planning his next move, Damon's character will have a hissy fit, almost jumping up and down stomping his feet on the ground.

This isn't to say The Departed is in any way worse than the original because, incredibly, it's not. It's just different. Scorcese is a master filmmaker and he gives The Departed an entirely different perspective than the source material. Equally, Damon and DiCaprio (not to mention Jack Nicholson) give amazing performances as their characters, which is important, since the American version has much more of an emphasis on making the characters' feelings clear. It would be easy for DiCaprio and Damon to overplay their roles, but they don't. They keep it real.

Infernal Affairs is much more subtle, except, maybe in the dialogue. Some may find certain lines too OTT:

Lau: Do all undercover cops like rooftops?
Chan: Unlike you, I'm not afraid of the light.

Personally, though, I loved certain parts of the dialogue. It's showy and obvious, but it's impacting. Sure, having this type of wordplay throws the film out of reality, but not so much that the viewer can't suspend disbelief. I think it adds a certain gravitas to the whole affair. Sort of like how Tarantino's dialogue rarely ever sounds realistic, but no less brilliant, because it's smart and its witty. Don't get me wrong, Infernal Affairs' script is clumsy in places, and sometimes a little too rough around the edges, but just now and again, there's a line or two in there that really hits you.

The direction also has the same melodramatic tone. Wai-Keung Lau and Alan Mak have made the film as dramatic as possible in the composition of the scenes. And they're brilliant. The rooftop scenes in the film are particularly important. The rooftop in the film is where the characters can't escape the light, it's shone on them and the truths are revealed. As such, any action taking place on the roofs had to be well-shot. And they are. The film is at its visual peak on the roofs, with wide shots, great scenery and particularly strong direction.

Infernal Affairs isn't a typical gangster film. It's bursting with style: from the direction, to the amazing cinematography, to the cool script, to the excellent performances. Andy Lau and Tony Leung are outstanding actors. They've both been great throughout their career (Leung was particularly memorable in Zhang Yimou's 'Hero') and they show real talent here. In fact, the whole cast is fairly brilliant, but no surprise with seasoned stars like Anthony Wong and Eric Tsang in supporting roles.

I can't recommend Infernal Affairs enough. Smart, cool and stylish. Keeps you hooked all the way through, and it never gets boring. You'd be insane not to see this film as soon as possible. My only suggestion would be that you make sure you see this before you see 'The Departed', 'cause you should, of course, always see the original first, right?

Evangelion 2.22 You Can (Not) Advance Collector's Edition Combi Pack [Blu-ray]
Evangelion 2.22 You Can (Not) Advance Collector's Edition Combi Pack [Blu-ray]
Dvd ~ Kotono Mitsuishi

4.0 out of 5 stars Nostalgia..., 7 Dec. 2011
Neon Genesis Evangelion 2.0 is outstanding. I saw this at the UK premiere and was blown away. The story is good, but it's not what shines here. What shines is the stunning visuals. Never, ever has animation looked this good. The music, as well, is in the major leagues.

The film starts off with the introduction of the new Evangelion pilot and the new Evangelion unit, both of which are quite frankly redundant. It is in my opinion that the new pilot, Mari, really has little reason to be here at all. I mean don't get me wrong, her fight scene is exceptional, if not a little short, but that could easily have been another character's fight. Mari's fight scene takes place at Nerv's US branch, which is VERY strange to see, if you're watching as a long time fan. After being used to the Japanese Nerv for so long, it's a bit disorienting- in a good way- to be taken to these people with their American accents giving Evangelions orders as they battle an Angel. But back to the fight. Again, actually breath taking is the atmosphere set be the tremendous sounds and visuals as Unit 05 whooshes by in style battling this new Angel incarnation. The fight ends and we're introduced to Kaji! A loveable character from the original series, then we're off!

Back to Japan we go, but no time to rest, as we're about to have an epic introduction to a renamed Asuka Shikinami as she hurls on screen in a slightly redesigned Eva 02 for yet another gorgeous and aural masterpiece of artfully designed mech fighting! A nice homage to the original here with the revamped Asuka Strikes theme, sure to make any long time Evangelion fan well with nostalgia. And that's the set-up complete, we're ready to proceed into act 2.

So far, I've tried to be as light as possible on the characters, because I don't want to bastardise this rebuild. However, if I were to look at the movies based on what Anno and his team have done to the characters, I'd quite frankly be extremely disappointed. But as I said in my review of Evangelion 1.0, I'm trying to view this as an entirely different species; merely a re-imagining, a 'what could have been'. That is the only way I could accept the change in tone and the, well, dumbing down of the characters. I'll add more about this in my conclusion, but for now, let's continue with act 2. Act 2 is where we really deviate from the series. I mean sure, we've got new Evangelions and a new character (who is almost completely irrelevant thus far), but nothing has changed too drastically. Act 2 is where things go nuts. I'm not going to spoil anything, instead I'll just say that if you were one of the few worried these movies would be too similar to the original series, fear not.

After a fast pace second act, the third act is literally explosive. Edge of the seat excitement, everyone in the cinema was in awe of the movie by the end. A great climax and a drool-worthy cliff hanger that will leave you dying for the next installment.

To conclude: My personal feelings on the movie are mixed. I'm glad Anno has decided to deviate from the original series more in this movie; speaking of which, this film absolutely blows the first installment out of the water in every way. Although interestingly enough, where the first was too slow in places, this one is perhaps too brisk in. The character and angel designs are faultless, and the soundtrack is genuinely exceptional. The problem is: Evangelion has lost it's stark atmosphere, its REAL depth. The characters are no longer quite as realistic as they once were, now much more in line with their anime peers. That's my biggest complaint and why I feel slightly biased giving the movie four stars (actually I'm giving it three and a half, but I might change my mind again!)- because it's just a very good animated movie. Very tense in all the right places with an increasingly complicated story, I'd recommend these movies to anime lover, but not over the original series. There's quite a few stand out scenes for me, it's hard to choose which is the best. if I was pressed, I'd probably go with, hm. Either the scene in which children's music is juxtaposed against the brutality of a particular fight or the appearance of Zuruel and subsequent fight that ensues.

(Oh, and I need to admit that I missed the -often considered horrendous- English dub. When I first watched the series, it was with the English audio, you see!)

The blu-ray version of the film looks absolutely amazing. It is by far, and with ease, the best use of CGI and 3D animations in an anime, ever. You really get to enjoy every scene of the film in blu-ray.

Shameless: Series 1 [2004]
Shameless: Series 1 [2004]

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing, 9 Feb. 2005
This review is from: Shameless: Series 1 [2004] (DVD)
Now normally I enjoy teen drama such as The OC or One Tree Hill... and although Shameless is in complete contrast to these shows in setting, I feel like I'm watching a brilliantly written version of the mentioned series'.
This is uncut drama at its best!

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