Infernal Affairs vs. The Departed

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I just finished watching The Departed, Martin Scorsese's latest bloodbath. It was, as expected, great. For all the flack he gets, I think DiCaprio is easily one of the most talented actors of his generation. No stranger to violent Scorsese films, he fit right into the part of an in-deep undercover cop slowly losing his sense of identity.

For his part Matt Damon also did well, revisiting his Boston accent and playing the straight-laced mole in the police department.

The clincher of the film, unsurprisingly, was Nicholson. With a handful of recent softy movies, it's nice to see jack's back!

His character has all the vile and murderousness of The Joker, and all the wit and humour of Melvin Udall. How can you not love a man that delivers perfectly the following dialog:

Frank Costello (Jack): How's your mother?
Man in Bar: Not so good, she's dying.
Frank Costello: We all are, act accordingly.

Scorsese and William Monahan (who penned it) kept quite close to Siu Fai Mak's original script for Infernal Affairs. I watched IA last year, and it was one of the few Chinese movies I loved for more than the action or cinematography. The emotionally complex plot made it stand out from the other Hong Kong movies I've seen. When I was home in Canada this past summer and saw the preview for The Departed, I only hoped it would do the original justice. I think it did that with an even hand and a LOT of bullets to the head.

The marks of Hollywood are as much evident on The Departed as HK's flavour is stewed into Infernal Affairs – but both deliver the same message with much the same style. Not so coincidently, I loved Eric Tsang's character in the first as much as I loved Nicholson in the adaptation. Both DiCaprio and Damon fit well the weaselly/conflicted and cold/clean-cut characters of Tony Leung and Andy Lau respectively.

If pressed, I'd have to choose The Departed over IA for the simple reason that I could follow the story a little more clearly, and connected with the characters just a tad better. That said, both were great to watch. I wonder if Scorsese will remake the sequels.

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