Thursday, May 20, 2010

Lost In Translation: Infernal Affairs and The Departed

I am running out of ways to creatively/obnoxiously say hello to you people. So, hello. Today at the internship I accomplished playing with a price gun in the museum gift shop (Note: employees DO find it funny when you price yourself at $79.00, they DO NOT however, find humor in you pretending to hang yourself with a noose fashioned from sticker-paper chains. Also they are GENERALLY INDIFFERENT to you running around with a plastic stingray screaming "I killed Steve Irwin!" in a squeaky voice. Just helpful things for you to know).


After that, I did some phone work and then we all watched Miracle for team-building purposes. Yeah. Miracle, if you don't know, is the true story of the U.S. Olympic hockey team actually not sucking in 1980. It's one of those "the world is in absolute shit, you know what would fix everything? A sporting event victory!!" movies. Thus is Miracle the story of the scrappy American hockey team overcoming adversity.

And by adversity I just assume they mean Kurt Russel's hair.

So, I didn't learn too much about team building due to my piddly attention span, but here are the things Miracle DID teach me:

1. Any and all problems can be solved through hockey drills

2. They wore some god awful pants back in 1980

3. Russians communicate solely through eyebrow wiggling

4. the legs feed the wolf (No, I don't know what that means, but Kurt Russell said it, so it must be so)


6. In Soviet Russia, hockey plays you

7. It is totally ok to neglect your children and alienate your wife in the name of Olympic hockey

8. There are absolutely no consequences to keeping seriously injured players on the ice

9. People from Minnesota talk funny

10. Announcers only care about the American team, and will openly root for them against the other nations

Ah well, at least there was free pizza.

After I got home, my brother and I watched Infernal Affairs, the Chinese thriller that Scorsese remade into The Departed. We learned two things from watching Infernal Affairs: 1. we've watched way too many Chinese action movies, because we could identify the entire main cast from several different films, and 2. Martin Scorsese did much less legwork than you would think in remaking this movie. Whole scenes and dialogue are lifted pretty much directly. He just changed the names, dropped a plot point about Morse Code and gave them all Boston accents. Done.

Don't get me wrong, I love The Departed. It has a great cast with everyone turning in a strong performance and the tension is finely tuned throughout (also any movie that utilizes the Dropkick Murphys earns extra points from me)

In the end, both movies have their strong and weak points. Infernal Affairs gets the extra credit of having done it first and it does a great job. It stars Tony Leung, who apart from being really cute is top friggin notch in whatever he acts in. The story is great, and the stuff about Morse code that Scorsese left out of his version is really cool. The weak point is that the story moves much faster. Characters are introduced and put into action way too quickly for you to get to know them or give a crap about them. A character dies and the movie makes a huge deal out of it with flashbacks and depressing music but you don't really know the character at all. Nothing pertinent was revealed about them, no real defining traits to make you care that he's dead. The Departed spends much more time fleshing out characters and giving us a reason to care what happens to them.

However, the ending is where The Departed comes up short. I won't spoil anything but the ending is clumsy and suffers from trying to make sure the bad guy gets what's coming to him. The original ending in Infernal Affairs makes no attempt to bring the villain to justice and is all the better for it, implying that the bad guy surviving and being forced to live with himself is punishment enough. It's a much stronger ending with a greater impact. And that's without even mentioning the stupidest part of Departed at the very end with the world's most heavy-handed symbolism for corruption when a rat scrabbles across a window sill overlooking the Massachusetts State House. Jeez! We get it, there's corruption at every level. Seriously, it's dumb just in general but Martin fucking Scorsese should know better. He is too good to get a free pass.

Overall? The Departed and Infernal Affairs are both strong movies with a few flaws that are nonetheless worth checking out (it's interesting to see just how extremely faithful Scorsese really was to Infernal Affairs). They both score four catapults out of five.

My cold medicine is kicking in, so forgive the spelling errors and good night!

"Of course I think the version I made is better, but the Hollywood version is pretty good too. [Scorsese] made the Hollywood version more attuned to American culture." -Andrew Lau, director of Infernal Affairs


  1. I rather liked the end to The Depahted (that is not a typo, sir) but I'll take your word for it.

  2. I think both endings work. The villain "getting away with it" was a nice development, but I like the fatalism of the end of the Departed. The rat is a strange one, though. Matt Damon paid a lot of money for that apartment and it's cut with rodents?!

  3. Well, at least they weren't Fehdrahl Mahshals. I might have been a bit harsh on the ending, it's just that I found the original one to be more, poignant, I guess? Or maybe it was Mark Whalberg's fault :D

  4. It's always Mark Wahlberg's fault.

  5. Good Lord young crack me up! I will have to come back an read this post a couple of times because I was laughing so hard I lost my place...partly becuase it is so funny, and sadly I am old and easily distracted.

    Thank you,


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