Infernal Affairs II (Mou Gaan Dou II) (2003)

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Released 21-Jun-2006

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Main Menu Audio & Animation
Featurette-Making Of
Featurette-Confidential File
Deleted Scenes
Teaser Trailer
Theatrical Trailer-2
TV Spots-5
Gallery-Photo
Trailer-Infernal Affairs, Breaking News, Bangkok Dangerous
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2003
Running Time 114:40
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (50:35) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Wai Keung Lau
Siu Fai Mak
Studio
Distributor
Media Asia
Madman Entertainment
Starring Edison Chen
Shawn Yue
Anthony Wong Chau-Sang
Francis Ng
Eric Tsang
Carina Lau
Chapman To
Hoi Lin
Roy Cheung
Bey Logan
Ricardo Mamood
Brandon Rhea
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $29.95 Music Kwong Wing Chan


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None Cantonese Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Cantonese dts 5.1 (768Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures Yes
Subtitles English Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

    This sequel to the successful Infernal Affairs is actually a prequel, detailing events between 1991 and the handover of Hong Kong to the Chinese in 1997. The story concerns the characters from the original film, Ming and Yan, though this time they are not played by Andy Lau and Tony Leung, but much younger actors Edison Chen and Shawn Yue. Eric Tsang reprises his role as gang leader Sam as does Anthony Wong as the aptly-named police inspector Wong.

    The plot is a little confusing. Gang boss Kwun is assassinated and his place is taken by his seemingly reluctant son Hau (Francis Ng). But quickly Hau shows himself to be an utterly ruthless leader. As he eliminates his rivals Sam becomes concerned that his own life is in danger. Yan, now an undercover mole for the police in Sam's gang, has a crush on his boss's woman, Mary (Carina Lau). Meanwhile, Ming is a police officer but in the pay of Sam.

    Having seen Infernal Affairs, what happens to the characters is already well known so there is not a great deal of tension to be had from the life-threatening situations depicted in the film. Given that it was a sequel and included two young actors who I assumed were probably cast for their looks rather than their ability, I was expecting this to be a bit of a dud. Well, it is not nearly as good as the original but it certainly looks as if considerable effort was expended in trying to make this a better than average sequel. The plot gels well with the plot of the original and explains a few things that seemed to be window-dressing in the first film (for example Yan's fetish for his high-end amplifier). The film is very well made, although as mentioned it can be a bit confusing. For the most part the director has avoided the now well-worn cliché of showing character by shots of the characters posing in "cool" positions and over-emphasising emotion through the use of slow-motion shots, though there are instances of both to be seen. I understand that the final episode in the trilogy is quite good too so it would be well worth seeing part two to maintain the overall story arc.

    The acting is generally very good apart from the two leads, who are satisfactory but not a patch on their predecessors. Francis Ng gives a standout performance as Hau, a character obviously inspired by that of Michael Corleone in the Godfather films. This is not the only parallel with the Coppola trilogy. Carina Lau is excellent as Sam's wife. Hau's wife is played by a very familiar actress from 1980s Hong Kong cinema, but I can't quite recall her name (and the credits are no help either).

    Overall this is a well made if not entirely perfect prequel to the original movie, worth seeing in the context of the trilogy and still a cut above most of the recent products of the Hong Kong movie industry. The DVD is currently available for rental but a retail release is planned for later in the year.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The film is presented in what appears to be the original aspect ratio, though it is closer to 2.40:1 than 2.35:1, and is 16x9 enhanced.

    The transfer is superior to that given the original. It is quite sharp and detailed. Black levels are strong though shadow detail could be better. Colour is slightly muted as it was in the first film.

    There are occasional video artefacts. From time to time there are minor instances of aliasing, for example at 63:55. There are several occurrences of moiré, including a brief but serious episode at 27:48. There is some minor edge enhancement throughout. Telecine wobble is visible during the opening credits and also at times during the feature.

    I noticed some occasional dust but otherwise the print was free of film artefacts.

    Optional English subtitles are provided. These are quite well done although they are in yellow, which is anathema for some.

    The disc is RSDL-formatted with the layer change placed at 50:35 and is not disruptive at all.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    There is a choice of Cantonese language soundtracks in Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS 5.1. I listened in full to the latter and sampled the former for purposes of comparison.

    Frankly I could not tell the difference between the two soundtracks, the DTS being good but by comparison to your average Hollywood blockbuster it sounds fairly undistinguished. There is sparing use of the rear channels for directional effects, a notable exception being a ticking clock in the opening sequence. Otherwise there are effects and music heard in the rear channels which combine reasonably well with the main audio. Dialogue is clear although perhaps a little too crisp. I felt overall that the soundtrack lacked a little in punch, with even the subwoofer sounding muted. This may reflect how the film originally sounded and may not be simply the way the DVD has been mastered.

    The score is a bit like the film itself, for the most part very good in underscoring the drama and assisting with the portrayal of character. Then occasionally it veers off-course into overly melodramatic music and the requisite forgettable song.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    All of the extras are subtitled in English and are in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 unless otherwise stated.

Main Menu Audio & Animation

    Music and effects over shots of the actors from the film.

Featurette-Making Of (21:57)

    I seriously think that the titles of this extra and the next have been inadvertently transposed. This "making of" featurette is merely a puff piece featuring the actors and (I assume) directors Andrew Lau and Alan Mak talking about the characters and the story. There are Chinese titles identifying the latter two participants but no translations are given.

Featurette-Confidential File (5:43)

    This is basically a video record of the production without narration or explanation. It starts with the party and religious observations held to mark the commencement of the shoot and concludes with the end of shoot party. In between it shows the shooting of the various stunts, which is quite interesting in that it gives an insight into how various shots were constructed.

Deleted Scenes (10:13)

    There are four scenes that were deleted for fairly obvious reasons, that is that they do not add to the storyline and would have unnecessarily extended the running time. Each is presented with time-coding.

Teaser Trailer (1:45)

    A not so short teaser.

Theatrical Trailers (4:13)

    Two trailers, one for the domestic market and the other the international version.

TV Spots (5:16)

    Five TV advertisements.

Gallery-Photo

    Some 15 production stills and publicity shots.

Trailer-Infernal Affairs, Breaking News, Bangkok Dangerous, Ong Bak (7:48)

    Trailers for other Eastern Eye releases, preceded by an anti-piracy advertisement.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    A Hong Kong release from MegaStar features a cast and crew audio commentary which I assume does not have English subtitles. The extras are on a second disc and comprise the same items as on the Region 4 plus a few extra trailers, a music video, biographies and filmographies and an alternative Mandarin Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack.

    Tartan Video's UK Region 2 release has the two featurettes on the Region 4, 3 of the 4 deleted scenes and a trailer. In addition to the Region 4 it has a stereo Cantonese soundtrack option and a booklet.

    In China the film appears as part of a four disc set with the other two films in the trilogy. It appears to have all of the extras on the Region 4 though without English subtitles. Disc two contains the present film and some of the extras while disc four contains the remaining extras.

    The edition of choice would seem to be the Hong Kong box set from MegaStar. It runs to eight discs but was only available in a limited run of 3,000 copies. It includes the same extras as the Chinese box set, but spread out across more discs. There is a director's cut of part three, and the last two discs contain a "complete" version being the three films edited together and running five hours. The individual films also have optional DTS ES and Dolby Digital EX soundtracks. The only downside is the lack of English subtitles on the extras.

Summary

    A good sequel to the original, not up to the same standard as it tends to be a little confusing. There is also a weakness in that the two leads are not strong enough to carry the film themselves.

    The video quality is good with a few minor problems.

    The audio quality is very good.

    A standard extras package with one standout featurette.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Philip Sawyer (Bio available.)
Thursday, May 11, 2006
Review Equipment
DVDSony DVP-NS9100ES, using Component output
DisplaySony 86CM Trinitron Wega KVHR36M31. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD Player, Dolby Digital and DTS. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationSony TA-DA9000ES for surrounds, Elektra Reference power amp for mains
SpeakersMain: Tannoy Revolution R3; Centre: Tannoy Sensys DCC; Rear: Richter Harlequin; Subwoofer: Richter Thor Mk IV

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