One of the most striking examples of Hong Kong action films at their absolute finest is Andrew Lau and Alan Mak’s “Infernal Affairs.” The 2002 film followed a cop who infiltrates a deadly gang and a mole from the same gang who joins the Hong Kong Police Force as the two men struggle to figure out who has betrayed them.
If that plot sounds familiar, it’s probably because you’ve seen “The Departed.” Martin Scorsese’s Oscar-winning Boston crime thriller is a remake of “Infernal Affairs,” though the original film’s legacy is far bigger than its remake. It also spawned two beloved sequels, “Infernal Affairs II” and “Infernal Affairs III,” resulting in one of the most highly acclaimed film trilogies of the century.
And now, fans and newcomers alike will get to experience the films with unprecedented clarity when a new 4K restoration of the trilogy begins screening at Film at Lincoln Center on September 16. The new restorations were created using an ARRISCAN film scanner and the original camera negatives, and the soundtrack has been remixed using the original digital audio master files.
The official synopsis for “Infernal Affairs” reads: “Two of Hong Kong cinema’s most iconic leading men, Tony Leung and Andy Lau, face off in the breathtaking thriller that revitalized the city-state’s twenty-first-century film industry, launched a blockbuster franchise and inspired Martin Scorsese’s ‘The Departed.’ The set-up is diabolical in its simplicity: two undercover moles—a police officer (Leung) assigned to infiltrate a ruthless triad by posing as a gangster, and a gangster who becomes a police officer in order to serve as a spy for the underworld—find themselves locked in a deadly game of cat and mouse, each racing against time to unmask the other. As the shifting loyalties, murky moral compromises, and deadly betrayals mount, ‘Infernal Affairs’ raises haunting questions about what it means to live a double life, lost in a labyrinth of conflicting identities and allegiances.”
The new 4K restorations of the “Infernal Affairs” trilogy are set to begin screening at Film at Lincoln Center on Friday, September 16. You can watch the trailer for the restoration, an IndieWire exclusive, below: