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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Diabolically ambitious sequel
Infernal Affairs II is one prequel you definitely shouldn't see before the original - so much of the interest comes from spotting throwaway details that assume more importance in the original film, and the character revelations are far more fascinating if you've seen the original. Take the opening monologue: standard enough - until you see who it is that Inspector Wong is...
Published on 17 Aug 2005 by Trevor Willsmer

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0 of 25 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Affairs are not good, and neither is this film!
Perhaps I was a little tired when I watched this movie, it probably required a bit more attention than I was able to give. It just didn't seem to go anywhere and remained very predictable. Not as good as the prequel I'm afraid.
Published on 20 Jan 2005 by D. Sharma


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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Diabolically ambitious sequel, 17 Aug 2005
By 
Trevor Willsmer (London, England) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Infernal Affairs II [DVD] [2003] (DVD)
Infernal Affairs II is one prequel you definitely shouldn't see before the original - so much of the interest comes from spotting throwaway details that assume more importance in the original film, and the character revelations are far more fascinating if you've seen the original. Take the opening monologue: standard enough - until you see who it is that Inspector Wong is opening up to: what we know about their eventual fates and the implications it has about their relationship is far more intriguing than if you choose this outing as you starting point.

With no Andy Lau or Tony Leung this time round, their younger selves played by the lacklustre Shawn Yue and Edison Chen are sidelined in favor of their superiors. It's a wise decision: Tsang and Francis Ng are superb, although curiously Anthony Wong isn't as good as in the original in a more expansive and more morally compromised role. The first half hour is awkward, but the deferred violence following the death of the local triad boss is well handled and the film fires into life with some genuinely great filmmaking once the consequences start catching up with the various characters.

The influence here is clearly the Godfather films, but whereas Godfather II was ultimately just a typical sequel exercise in underlining and escalation, this back story really does add layers to the original, with Eric Tsang becoming a genuinely tragic figure in his final scene. Where Godfather II tended to use history merely as a backdrop, here the handover of Hong Kong becomes an integral part of the film. The final montage of power being handed over from one nation to another, as police badges are replaced alongside criminals photos on the wall carries real weight and substance: it's what the film is all about - the loss of authority and the gaining of power, given the feeling of a requiem rather than a triumph by Chan Kwong Wing's eloquent score. Not as good as the original, true, but still very impressive indeed.

Thankfully, unlike their Infernal Affairs DVD, the subtitles on this Tartan DVD are framed for widescreen TVs. The transfer is excellent and there is a fair package of extras, although someone ought to have told the author of the sleeve notes to actually watch the movie: this film does NOT begin with an airport shootout!
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Much better than expected, 11 Mar 2005
This review is from: Infernal Affairs II [DVD] [2003] (DVD)
After being blown away by Infernal Affairs I was a little wary when this prequel was rushed out so soon after the first movie, especially when I learnt that the two leads (the excellent Andy Lau and Tony Leung) would not be returning. However, Infernal Affairs II proved to be almost as enjoyable as the first film.
The film takes place ten or so years before the events of the first film and the focus is not so much on the triad and police moles as it is on the history of the relationship between Anthony Wong's police chief and Francis Ng's triad boss. Francis Ng, in particular, delivers a superb performance as events conspire to turn him from an affable gang member to brutal gang leader. With the news that a third Infernal Affairs movie has been shot, it would seem that the directors are trying to make a Far Eastern trilogy to rival the Godfather. On the evidence so far, they might just manage it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A sequel with a unique, brilliant concept, 21 April 2011
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This review is from: Infernal Affairs II [DVD] [2003] (DVD)
This is a follow-up to "Infernal Affairs". However, it is not some different story with the same characters, and it's not even set in the time that follows the first movie. The events in this movie happen simultaneously or even before the events in Part 1, and are meant to explain the meaning and background of the first movie. Indeed, it is necessary to have seen the beginning of Part 1, in order to understand what this one is all about.

That idea has been brilliantly executed. The movie is thrilling and unpredictable from the beginning to the end. I liked it just as much as Part 1, and I have watched both of them several times.

This movie's only flaw was, again, that the Chinese looked so similar to me and I had a really tough time telling the people apart. But that is, obviously, not their fault.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Diabolically ambitious sequel, 17 Sep 2009
By 
Trevor Willsmer (London, England) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
Infernal Affairs II is one prequel you definitely shouldn't see before the original - so much of the interest comes from spotting throwaway details that assume more importance in the original film, and the character revelations are far more fascinating if you've seen the original. Take the opening monologue: standard enough - until you see who it is that Inspector Wong is opening up to: what we know about their eventual fates and the implications it has about their relationship is far more intriguing than if you choose this outing as you starting point.

With no Andy Lau or Tony Leung this time round, their younger selves played by the lacklustre Shawn Yue and Edison Chen are sidelined in favor of their superiors. It's a wise decision: Tsang and Francis Ng are superb, although curiously Anthony Wong isn't as good as in the original in a more expansive and more morally compromised role. The first half hour is awkward, but the deferred violence following the death of the local triad boss is well handled and the film fires into life with some genuinely great filmmaking once the consequences start catching up with the various characters.

The influence here is clearly the Godfather films, but whereas Godfather II was ultimately just a typical sequel exercise in underlining and escalation, this back story really does add layers to the original, with Eric Tsang becoming a genuinely tragic figure in his final scene. Where Godfather II tended to use history merely as a backdrop, here the handover of Hong Kong becomes an integral part of the film. The final montage of power being handed over from one nation to another, as police badges are replaced alongside criminals photos on the wall carries real weight and substance: it's what the film is all about - the loss of authority and the gaining of power, given the feeling of a requiem rather than a triumph by Chan Kwong Wing's eloquent score. Not as good as the original, true, but still very impressive indeed.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Confusing, not quite on par with the first, 30 Sep 2005
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This review is from: Infernal Affairs II [DVD] [2003] (DVD)
I just watched this last night - I have to say I was a little confused regarding what was going on and remembering who was who took a great deal of effort, but it eventually paid off and I got it....at least I think I got it. To get the most out of this installment, it's probably best to watch the original first. Plenty of good stuff to be had here, but it just wasn't as clear or as tense as the original. For me anyway.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars NOT AS GREAT AS THE FIRST ' BUT GREAT NEVER THE LESS', 22 Sep 2006
This review is from: Infernal Affairs II [DVD] [2003] (DVD)
Okay, how did they do it? Given the fact that Infernal Affairs was a blockbuster of untold proportions AND a damned decent cops-and-robbers thriller to boot, how did the filmmakers deliver a prequel that succeeded as well as this one? Infernal Affairs II sets the wayback machine to a full ten years before the events in Infernal Affairs, adds new characters, brings back all the old ones, and actually manages to tell an involving crime story that supports and even enhances the storyline of the original. Those who dug ONLY the mega-star pairing of Andy Lau and Tony Leung Chiu-Wai might find IA2's ensemble a little too superstar-impaired, but those who enjoyed the original's cinematic storytelling and genre characterization should be more than happy.

The film starts back in 1991. Officer Wong (Anthony Wong) is still busting triads, but his eventual nemesis Sam (Eric Tsang) is still a lowly sub-boss. Sam is beneath the powerful Ngai family, but the family gets thrown into disarray when the head of the family (Joe Cheung) gets murdered. The hitman is no stranger to the audience: Ming, played in IA1 by Andy Lau, and here as a youngun by Edison Chen. Ming did the deed at the behest of Sam's wife Mary (Carina Lau), who takes the young guy under her wing. Meanwhile, Officer Wong and Sam actually share a minor friendship, as Wong views Sam as the lesser of the triad evils. But the hit on the elder Ngai means a power struggle could ensue--a possibility that's crushed by the quick ascent of the eldest Ngai son, Hau (Francis Ng), to the top seat in the triad. Hau takes the seat, brings the other bosses in line, and presto: the OCTB has a top nemesis for years to come.

Enter young Yan (Tony Leung in IA1, Shawn Yu in younger form). A rising cadet, he gets summarily dismissed because he's actually the half-brother of Hau. This leads to his enlistment as an undercover (outlined in the first film), and his eventual employment for the Ngai family. The problem exists: who will he be loyal to, family or the cops? His contacts in the law include Officer Wong and Officer Luk (Hu Jun), whose morality and righteous determination are an inspiration to both Yan and Officer Wong. Wong could actually use the inspiration, because he's not as righteous as IA1 would have us believe. He actually has secret ties to Mary, which are unknown to Sam and potentially damaging to Wong. Furthermore, Hau is more cunning and dangerous than he appears, which could prove potentially damning to Sam, who still seems somewhat naive for an avowed crime boss. Plus Ming continues to lurk in the background, slowly rising up the police ranks, quietly collecting information, and secretly coveting the older Mary. Something's gotta give, and though the outcome is known (see IA1 to get the final scoop), the road it takes to get there holds some surprises of its own.

The outcome here is predetermined: Wong and Sam will eventually become bitter enemies, and Ming and Yan will become diametrically opposed moles. Writers Felix Chong and Alan Mak could have taken the easy route with the situation, and crafted a similar sort of mole vs. mole action with Edison Chen and Shawn Yu standing in for Andy Lau and Tony Leung Chiu-Wai. However, the writers apparently decided that the gold of the original film was not the concept, but the characters. Infernal Affairs II takes place during three distinct years: 1991, 1995 and 1997. The reasons behind this are at once structural (three years, three acts) and historical (1997=handover), but it also elevates Infernal Affairs to wannabe-Godfather mythic status. With history as the backdrop, the characters are asked to evolve until they reach that fabled time: 2001, when Infernal Affairs happens and three of the four main characters cash in their chips. The conceit is a dangerous one. By making the IA saga an epic tale, the writers risk exaggerating the conflicts beyond good tension-building crime drama into "this means something" Greek tragedy. The Godfather films had enough history to back up an epic tale, but Infernal Affairs has ten years in which to create a supposed "legend" (which is what the DVD packaging sells the films as). Is Infernal Affairs really that big a deal?

Well, probably not. History does provide a good structure for the story, but the trials of Wong, Sam, Yan and Ming don't encompass any sort of metaphorical journey of the Hong Kong from 1991-2001. The fears and hopes of the Hong Kong people are not encapsulated by the overwrought shenanigans of cops and robbers, no matter how dramatic or well-staged they may be. IA2 essentially climaxes at the Handover, though the reasoning for such is questionable. Had the filmmakers chosen to set the film during any other time, it's unlikely that the story would have been hurt in the slightest.

However, what Infernal Affairs II does do well is establish character. Some characters are ringers, like Hu Jun's too-righteous Luk. He's not in the film long enough to matter, but the affect he has on both Wong and Yan does matter. Likewise, Mary is a defining character for young Ming, whose need for personal status and self-gratification can be seen plainly through his desire--and eventual resolution--with Mary. Likewise, the machinations of Hau, the subtle growth of Yan, and the revelations of certain characters all bear real dramatic fruit. As crime dramas go, Infernal Affairs II is tops. It takes types and makes something of them, and even though some of its strokes are a bit too far-reaching (Chapman To DID NOT have to be in this film) or contrived (Yan is Hau's half-brother? Wong and Sam were involved with the same woman?), the ways in which the conflicts and situations define the characters is exceptional. As a standalone film, IA2 could probably seen as too-contrived and too obviously over-connected (everybody knows everybody else, apparently), but as the prequel to Infernal Affairs it gives everyone--both the characters AND the audience--something to chew on. It's like reading good pulp fiction.

Then there's the acting. Eric Tsang and Anthony Wong turn in their usual solid performances, though neither stands out as well as they did in the original film. Instead, Francis Ng impresses with a quietly controlling performance, and Carina Lau brings a mature and believable sexiness to the role of Mary. Fine support is provided by Roy Cheung, in a wordless, but physically dynamic performance, and Hu Jun, who is too charismatic an actor to have to suffer through dubbing. Shawn Yu surprises by managing to project some of Yan's inner torture, and even adopts some of Tony Leung Chiu-Wai's more subtle personal tics. Edison Chen is Edison Chen; you can pretty much take him or leave him. While he does resemble a young Andy Lau, he doesn't do much more than glower and act in an annoyingly inert fashion. His laconic badboy act doesn't do justice to the almost sinister demeanor that Andy Lau gave Ming in the original IA. Chen doesn't really hurt the film, but acting lessons (or electroshock therapy) might not be a bad idea.

What's best about Infernal Affairs II is ultimately what was best about the first film: it tells a good story effectively--thanks to Andrew Lau and Alan Mak--and does so without a lot of needless crowd-pleasing filler. In that respect, IA2 is probably more successful than the original, as it doesn't feel the need to reward audiences with mega-star couplings (Andy and Sammi! Tony and Kelly! Eric and Chinese Take Out!). It also doesn't resort to the obvious to explain its characters. At film's end, the characters are firmly set on the road that will lead them to IA1, but the outright conflicts of IA1 (Yan's self-flaggelation at the undercover life, Wong and Sam's bitter rivalry) are not spelled out with big, bold letters or large declarations of personal purpose. When the credits roll, the characters are left to simmer until we see them in IA1, and it's possible that the original film could be improved by a consecutive viewing with IA2. As separate films neither is truly that great, but together they manage to be rewarding and intelligent, and proof that Hong Kong commercial film can still pack a punch.

Now if only they can nail Infernal Affairs III
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5.0 out of 5 stars Superior!, 16 Feb 2013
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This review is from: Infernal Affairs II [DVD] [2003] (DVD)
s i m p l y d o e s n ' t g e t a n y b e t t e r !
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5.0 out of 5 stars genius, 24 Mar 2008
This review is from: Infernal Affairs II [DVD] [2003] (DVD)
Genius plot, depth and charachter. This film shines light on the first infernal affairs and develops the charachters more than intruiguing pasts. So make sure u see infernal affiars 1 first! A modern day classic, you must see this!
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5.0 out of 5 stars absolutely brilliant, 2 Aug 2005
By 
A. Roughan "neospikev600" (Felton, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Infernal Affairs II [DVD] [2003] (DVD)
Having acquired the first film out of pure chance I was surprised with just how great it was. I was a little precautius about a second film because they usually only ruin the firsts good name. This film does the first one justice and more. The acting is just as good as the first, the music is excellent and the storyline not ripped off from the first one. I'm glad it felt like a whole new expierience to watch. It was interesting to see Sam and Wong's characters interaction in this one opposed to the last one. I hope Infernal Affairs 3 nicely rounds off the trilogy and can keep the good name running.
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0 of 25 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Affairs are not good, and neither is this film!, 20 Jan 2005
By 
D. Sharma "snake11" (Houston, Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Infernal Affairs II [DVD] [2003] (DVD)
Perhaps I was a little tired when I watched this movie, it probably required a bit more attention than I was able to give. It just didn't seem to go anywhere and remained very predictable. Not as good as the prequel I'm afraid.
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Infernal Affairs II [DVD] [2003]
Infernal Affairs II [DVD] [2003] by Alan Mak (DVD - 2005)
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