In 2004, 10 months after the murder of Yan (Tony Leung), Ming (Andy Lau) is transferred to do the office work. Meanwhile, a new star Wing (Leon Lai) has emerged in the police force. Ming suspects he is also a mole sent by the triad. Three years ago, Yan's first big mission was to build up a smuggling network with Shen (Chen Dao Ming), a mysterious businessman from China. Actually, Yan's big brother Sam (Eric Tsang) wants to place Yan in danger. SP Wong (Anthony Wong) relaises that Yan was out of control and forces him to see a psycologist Dr. Lee (Kelly Chen). Yan gradually develops a special friendship with her.
The Infernal Affairs trilogy have to be among the most critically acclaimed films to come out of Hong Kong in recent years. The whole trilogy was made in not much more time than it takes Hollywood to film one major film, and the remake rights for part I have since been bought, with reportedly none other than Martin Scorsese at the helm. Shortly after more questions were asked following the end of part II, part III arrived to conclude the trilogy.
My first fear for part III was that the cast list included Tony Leung Chiu Wai. If you have not seen the original Infernal Affairs then do not read the rest of this paragraph as it contains a major spoiler! Tony Leung Chiu Wai is one of the best actors around, so why would this raise any sort of fear for this film? Well, his character is dead. I started to have nightmares that they were going to bring in Yan's twin brother looking for revenge, who conveniently had been out of the country all this time, or some story would be concocted that involved the bullet in his head not actually killing him, now he was on the recovery and back for revenge... Fortunately neither of those stories are in Infernal Affairs III, and Tony Leung Chiu Wai is in the film as this instalment takes place both before and after the events of the original Infernal Affairs. Phew!
With Ming in the clear with regard to the events in part 1, and wanting to be a good guy, he starts to become obsessed with tracking down the other undercover triads that Sam placed in the police force. One of his prime suspects is Wing (Leon Lai), head of the mysterious Security division of the police, a division where everything with-in is classified. In his research and snooping around to gain information on Wing, he discovers that Wing has some link to an arms dealer from mainland China called Shen (Chen Dao Ming). In the past in transpires that Shen was joining forces with Sam in order to improve each of their businesses, thus once more bringing Yan into the mix.
This final part of the Infernal Affairs trilogy is here to tie up the loose ends left over from the first two parts, and conclude Ming's story. Along the way there are a few more unexpected twists to keep the viewer on their toes, and to ensure that you have to pay attention to everything that is going on on-screen. In my review for part II, one of the complaints I had was how the relationship between Yan and Inspector Wong was nothing like how it appeared to be in the first part, well I have the same complaint again here but this time for the relationship between Yan and Sam.
In part I it appeared as though Yan was Sam's number one guy and indeed Sam says something to this effect to Yan, "You are my most trusted follower" or similar words. However, that is not the way things come across in this instalment. Yan is in fact only Keung's (Chapman To) henchman, and it is Keung who is Sam's number one guy. The difference in relationship is made all the more evident from the situations in which Sam deliberately places Yan. Yan really being Sam's most trusted follower is highly debatable from this, but it is clear that Sam has no regard for Yan's life.
With the story taking place both before and after the events in the first part, the time jumps to and fro frequently, to fill in elements of the plot threads being told. This got slightly distracting at times, as some scenes came across more as though they were there simply to fill in overall story-arc blanks, rather than to enhance the section of the story being told in part III. I felt this way primarily for the relationship between Yan and Dr. Lee (Kelly Chen). We were made aware in part I that there was possibly more than just a professional relationship between the two, and here we are given all the background, seeing from their first appointment to their last. This was good for interest and for knowing more about the Infernal Affairs world, but I did feel it was played out overly long for its importance to part III. The only key moment is when the parallels between Yan and Ming are revealed to the doctor.
While some of the scenes are a little random in placing and possibly just fillers, this does not detract from the overall enjoyment of the film. Having watched the first two parts, I wanted to know more about the characters, what happened in their past and what was going to happen to them, and having all these details filled in, regardless of their importance to the key story line in part III, helped bring the trilogy to a pleasing climax.
Acting wise, I was glad to see everything was back to the almost the same standard as the original. The "glitches in the matrix" with regard to Anthony Wong's performance are gone, have Tony Leung instead of Shawn Yue acting as Yan raises the calibre of that character no end, Leon Lai comes across actually quite smoothly and very positively as the mysterious Wing from the security division, Chen Dao Ming does his job as Shen with a lot of style, Eric Tsang nails Sam once again and Kelly Chen handles her role as the doctor very well. That leaves Andy Lau as Ming. Despite how ominous I probably made that sound, he still acts very well in this film, but not as well. This is probably more due to the route that the story takes his character and the way that Andy Lau was therefore required to act. Some elements of this were not as convincing as others which, while a bit disappointing, can be forgiven a little as it was a far more demanding role than anyone else's.
I am at a loss as to what else to say about this film, and indeed the Infernal Affairs trilogy. For the length of time that it took to make all three films, producing films of such quality was a remarkable feat. For my tastes part II may have been a little lacking in some areas, but other people I know absolutely loved it, thinking it to be the best of the trilogy. Regardless with Infernal Affairs III the trilogy bows out on a high, setting a new standard for Hong Kong films. Whether Hollywood decides to remake all three films remains to be seen, but whether they do or don't, watch these originals first, and remember where Hollywood has had to look for its ideas.
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