July 31, 2006


Hollywood Elsewhere is reporting that Warner Brothers chose to turn down an invite to screen THE DEPARTED at the Toronto International Film Festival. With an October release date and Scorsese's name attached it would look like going to Toronto would be a no-brainer but for some reason the flick won't go to our neighbors to the north. Is the studio worried? Do they think their product is no good? Or are they planning a different marketing strategy, one that doesn't involve industry buzz, festival acclaim and good word of mouth?

Watching the lard-fisted trailer (did someone randomly drop in those music tracks after it was cut?), this INFERNAL AFFAIRS remake looks like a decent action/cop movie but no patch on the original.

(thanks to the sharp-eyed reader who sent this in)

July 31, 2006 at 12:23 PM in News | Permalink


"this INFERNAL AFFAIRS remake looks like a decent action/cop movie but no patch on the original."

I couldn't disagree more with that statment if it were possible. No offense, but it sounds to me like a lot of geek gushing ("the original is always better").

I would be very surprised if this movie isn't better than (the highly over rated) Infernal Affairs.

What I wouldn't be expecting is this movie to be better than Infernal Affairs 2. IA2 is easily the most under rated Hong Kong film of recent years as it's easily the best HK film of at least 10 years. But why is it so over looked? Cause people still sallow that "the original is always better" without ever really putting some thought to it.

Such a shame...

Posted by: the running man | Aug 2, 2006 4:24:22 AM

I loved Infernal Affairs and agree with Grady becaues (and this is just speaking for myself) frankly having seen and enjoyed thoroughly the original film, I don't know if there's that much more to be added with an American remake. IA 2 I didn't like as much because again I don't think it added that much. I think IA stands alone just fine and IA2 really is a movie that will lose anyone if they haven't just seen IA before watching IA 2 or IA 3 (which I still haven't seen because of how mixed the word of mouth is). For me, the story of IA ends with IA and you can dismiss this as geek gushing but it's how I feel. We differ in opinion. Big whoop.

Posted by: Simon Abrams | Aug 2, 2006 9:45:22 AM

IA ended with just IA for you? Good for you then. Your loss. I know that really just has to do with the geek prejudice against sequels which to me is about the most silliest immature thing that many supposed "film experts" love to perpetuate with little to no substance backing up their claims.

IA2 added plenty. It was far deeper than IA1 ever pretending it was and in fact was so good that it enriched the IA1 in retrospect. IA2 is simply an excellent film through and through whereas the first film was just slightly above average at best.

IA2 is easily a better film than the first one and The Departed will be better than the first IA. The talent involved in it is just to great to deliver anything as the overblown average Infernal Affairs is.

Posted by: the running man | Aug 2, 2006 9:57:53 AM

If there's one more insult slung on this relatively short thread then I'm going to have to come to your houses and spank both of you and trust me, it'll scar you for life.

I don't know what it is about the internet that causes people to fling insults at other people like rice at a wedding, but it's really immature and there's no place for it here.

You guys differ in opinion. If you can't state your differences without insulting one another then take it elsewhere. Seriously. And, Running Man, this is mostly directed at you. You're using "geek" as a pejorative and slinging it at Simon, someone who is doing nothing more than disagree with you - and disagree rather politely for that matter.

You guys can argue all you want, but by insulting Simon's character, rather than challenging his ideas you sound like you should be posting over at Ain't It Cool. You're a smart guy, and I've read plenty of intelligent comments from you to know that you can state your case without getting personal.

Posted by: Grady Hendrix | Aug 2, 2006 10:29:45 AM

I'm a big fan of IA and IA 2 - I've said a few times that the two movies taken together are, in my mind, one of the great crime film sagas of the last 50 years. Although there's more fat in IA that shows up on later viewings (the female characters don't have a lot to do, for one thing) I think it's got such a solid concept and the directors, writers and actors run with it as far as they can go. The drug bust, the opening minutes, Eric Tsang, Anthony Wong - there are so many perfect elements in this movie that I can overlook the few aspects of it that I don't like so much. In fact, I tend to remember it as a better movie than it is because it's so original and the parts of it that work work extremely well.

IA 2 doesn't stand alone very well since you need to be familiar with IA for it to really resonate. But seeing the two movies together, or close together, is a really powerful experience. One of the things IA 2 does so well is overturn all your expectations from IA and the two fit together like puzzle pieces.

IA 3 is alright - it didn't add a whole lot or subtract much from the IA experience for me. No harm, no foul, in my book.

I guess I'm down on THE DEPARTED because I haven't liked a single movie that Scorsese has made since CASINO way back in 1995. I've had the feeling that everything he's made since then is over-produced and half-baked. That's just me and I know lots of people love KUNDUN and THE AVIATOR but I'm not one of them. He hasn't been doing anything I see as particularly challenging, he hasn't been doing anything particularly experimental, from where I'm sitting it looks like he's just spinning his wheels. And one thing about IA and IA 2 that is so great is that the directors are attacking their material with relish and it shows. They aren't just going through the motions - which is what it feels like Scorsese is doing nowadays.

Another reason is that I really don't like Matt Damon and Leonardo DiCaprio as actors as much as I like Tony Leung and Andy Lau. They managed to inhabit their characters so well that I have a hard time getting their particular performances out of my head. I also have seen far more movies starring Tony Leung and Andy Lau than I have starring Matt Damon and Leonardo DiCaprio, and I've had a longer history with them as actors. Their careers and screen personalities are ones that I feel closer to, and ones that resonate more with me.

And I think Eric Tsang brings more menace to the table than Jack Nicholson these days, and I think Anthony Wong is a sharper actor than Alec Baldwin. These Anglo actors could still surprise me, but based on their recent history I tend to doubt their ability to blow me away.

So I'm not expecting a whole lot from THE DEPARTED. I could be wrong, and I'd be the first to admit it, but I like IA 1 and 2 so much that this would have to be a pretty amazing movie for me to love it, and as it is I think it's just going to be a fair-to-decent police picture which is fine. There aren't enough of those these days. But you can't remake a movie without being compared to the original, and IA 1 and 2 have left some pretty big shoes to fill. I don't know if the director and star of THE GANGS OF NEW YORK can fill them.

Posted by: Grady Hendrix | Aug 2, 2006 10:43:33 AM

"If there's one more insult slung on this relatively short thread then I'm going to have to come to your houses and spank both of you and trust me, it'll scar you for life."

Bring it Grady...I got William Donahue on speed dial. ;)

"You're a smart guy, and I've read plenty of intelligent comments from you to know that you can state your case without getting personal"

Well, I just came back from reading some dude's comment on an Asian film forum who was kinda ranting on the same subject as this. It was geek hate on me. So reading some other comment I just used geek cause that's what I felt like it. So don't take it personal Simon. :)

Although I do believe there is certainly an amount of unfair prejudice on sequels that are taken into account way too much on too many films that don't deserve it. Most people don't want to admit so but I do see it. IA2 being one of the prime examples of such a victim.

Posted by: the running man | Aug 2, 2006 10:54:18 AM

Personally, I like IA so much.... But I think IA 2 and IA 3 are unnecessary movies.... Maybe it is just me, but I personally dislike IA 2; I think it is just [GODFATHER-wannabe] and it is nothing special. I agree that IA 3 is alright, but this movie didn't need to be made. In concussion, I think that only watching IA is ok....

By the way, for the people who like IA 2, I recommend you to watch ELECTION and ELECTION 2; they are much better than IA 2.
(ELECTION series is somewhat similar to GODFATHER series, but those two series are very different overall.)

Posted by: no name | Aug 2, 2006 11:10:58 AM

By the way, I also not expect a whole lot from THE DEPARTED. Test screening reviews weren't positive.... (Those review wanted to love THE DEPARTED, and they were very [kind] when they wrote those reviews)

With the news that Warner Brothers chose to turn down an invite to screen THE DEPARTED at the Toronto International Film Festival, I think that THE DEPARTED may be another disappointment for Warner Brothers in 2006.

Posted by: no name | Aug 2, 2006 11:22:26 AM

Sorry.... I mean those reviewers wanted to love THE DEPARTED, and they were very [kind] when they wrote those test-screening reviews.

Posted by: no name | Aug 2, 2006 11:23:30 AM

"IA 2 doesn't stand alone very well since you need to be familiar with IA for it to really resonate."

Yes, but that isn't anything I'd call a flaw. It's the next step of the story. Although a sequel, it is designed to be seen after the first movie, but that isn't anything of a flaw. I mean, it has a "2" at the end of a title. Not too many movies like that are telling you to see that first.

That's like for example the Rurouni Kenshin anime. After the tv series, these direct to video series was made that were prequels to the show. However they were designed to be seen after the show. Sure they can be seen before the show, but it will have much less resonance. Even then, that series is regarded in many anime circles as masterpieces.

That's a similar thing with this and why I turn it around saying that part 2 makes part 1 better. Quite honestly, part 1 was just not all that deep. Characters aren't that well developed and other characters that don't really do much or add much but the film acts like it should (the females are the prime examples). Added to that, the direction is on the amateur side with pointless loud booming flash cuts to get your attention. The death of one of the major characters in the first movie is then followed by one of these just to go to a silly flashback sequence to show "the good old days" while cheesy sentimental music plays to let you know it's a tragedy. Another, although lesser evil of this, is during the scene with Tony Leung and Kelly Chan for the first time. There's an attraction between them...so we got fuzzy love happy good times music in the background just to let us know that. That's something you'd expect in a soap opera...not a feature film.

Infernal Affairs 2 pretty much erases all of that from the first film that was weak. It fills in the gaps of character development that the first film lacked while invoking another tale of great tragedy which is far more emotionally effective than anything from the first. If anyone out there was not crushed seeing Eric Tsang crying in his room and then turn around to face the people in the party by putting a mask on for them, they should really get life experience therapy (even if such a thing does not exist) and fast. And aside from the career defining performance of Francis Ng (and that's saying a hell of it lot), everyone and everything was at the top of their game. The direction on this was a huge jump of maturity than the first film. Things were laid back on the subtle with the shots and transitions. And while I heard people say that the score was over the top, I argue that it fit perfectly in what really is an epic. One that quite honestly is the best Hong Kong film in at least a decade.

Part 3, while probably the weakest film of the three (I'd give it more reviews to see what I think in the end), is still quite solid. The biggest strike against it is the rather confusing nature of the tapes but without a doubt, things are brought full circle from the central theme of the entire trilogy.

As for the remake, I'm sorry but I'm still betting on this being better than the first movie. Martin Scorsese simply wipes the floor with Alan Mak and Andrew Lau. I have no doubt that those guys were freaking out when they heard who they got on the remake's director's chair. While it mostly will depend on the screenwriter of the piece and not Marty, there's little way that I can see this remake being inferior. From notes that I read, the film seems to be taking advantage far more of it's premise than the original did.

And as far as why it's not being sent to Toronto...Marty has been noted to be editing his films all the way to the last minute. Perhaps he just feels it will not be ready by then. I wouldn't be surprised if that's what he is doing right at the second and all the way up to the last seconds before the prints have to be sent out.

Posted by: the running man | Aug 2, 2006 11:24:32 AM

Dude - I'm on your side about IA 2. I do think it adds a lot to IA, but I don't think IA has to be dismissed out of hand. I agree that there's a lot of old school Hong Kong corn in IA: the romance music, the flashbacks, some really silly dialogue in the therapist's office. But I think the concept is so strong, and the attack on it is so assured by the actors and directors that when you remember the movie the lesser parts seem to disappear, as if they didn't exist.

I'm curious about your comment that Lau and Mak don't take full advantage of the material. Where do you think they could have taken it that it didn't go?

And, finally, I'm surprised to see people not liking IA 2. I thought it was a perfect sequel, and I can't think about IA without including IA 2 because it changes the first movie so much. I've seen both movies a couple of times, but IA 2 is the one I return to again and again. I sort of thought my opinion was a universal constant, like the speed of light. How dare people not feel the way I do!

And, funny enough, I was in a deli killing a half hour when Bill Donahue walked in and sat at the table next to me. I hid my face and fled like the coward I am. It was too early in the morning and he had a suspicious suitcase on wheels with him.

Posted by: Grady Hendrix | Aug 2, 2006 2:33:02 PM

Did you see your buddy Bill's appearance on THE COLBERT REPORT?

Posted by: Steve | Aug 2, 2006 3:21:03 PM

I hope I'm not spoiling anything, but can anyone alleviate one of my concerns regarding IA3?

One of the big hooks for IA was that once Anthony Wong's character was killed, Tony Leung didn't have anyone else to turn to since no one else knew his identity.

However, IA3 shows that Leon Lai's character knew Tony Leung was an undercover cop. If that was really the case, then why didn't Tony Leung turn to Leon Lai when Anthony Wong was killed?

Posted by: Tom | Aug 3, 2006 2:05:17 PM


Leon Lai wasn't the only one who knew Tony Leung's identity. Cheng Dao Ming's character as well. The reason Tony didn't turn to them when Wong was killed was because both Leon Lai and Cheng Dao Ming's characters were not in Hong Kong at the time of the events of the first IA film. I forgot the reason that is given, but they say it in IA3.

BTW Gary...I'll get a reply back to you soon. ;)

Posted by: the running man | Aug 3, 2006 6:20:31 PM

For those who have not seen the original film - Infernal Affairs then you would say this is a great film, maybe the ending was a let down.
I have seen the original and that was a master piece, and this remake just cannot live up to it. They had to change certain parts of the original and that was the mistake - you don't mess about with a classic master piece!
I dont think any of the scenes in The Departed can better Infernal Affairs, i was hoping this would at least live up to the original but i was very disappointed.
A good film overall but Infernal Affairs will forever stay in my mind while this will just sadly fade away.

Posted by: Pete | Oct 10, 2006 10:04:04 AM

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