It was action movie weekend around here as Rose not only rented 300 but also ...
The Bourne Identity
She saw The Bourne Ultimatum with friends and thought it would be nice to see where it all started. We all liked it. Not only well plotted and played but the fact that Matt Damon is so ordinary was definitely in character as the assassin who no one would look at twice. We're looking forward to renting the next one in the trilogy. HC rating: **** 9 thumbs up!
We have long been fans of the movie that inspired this one, Infernal Affairs. I have reprinted the original review below. See that for a general plot synopsis.
Not being a Martin Scorsese fan I was not interested in watching but Rose had never seen a Scorsese flick and was interested to see what had been done in the remake. What she found was that it was "much more American and not in a good way." In short, Scorsese added a lot of character development that was unnecessary. We think that he may have actually incorporated many elements from Infernal Affairs 2 which shows the two men's advancement through the ranks of their various assigned professions. She also found that he had eliminated one of the most suspenseful scenes (showing the two moles pitted against each other communicating with their bosses during a drug bust) and unnecessarily connected the psychiatrist with the mole in the police department. This means that the original girlfriend was cut which is too bad since she added a subtle cuing to look at the mole's character development when she would bounce different plot ideas off of him for her book, The Man of a 1000 Faces (or some such title -- you get the idea). Basically, Rose found that it was "all junked up" with additions that detracted from the story, including changing the ending in a significant manner that completely changed the strong redemptive nature of the original story.
Interesting feedback, since, as I mentioned, she has never seen a Scorsese film and was willing to accept a different take on the story. If you see the two movies in reverse order you may find that Infernal Affairs is too spare for your taste, however, take a look at the subtleties with which all the character development is accomplished using much less angst and drama.
She then went and rented Infernal Affairs again to see if her original take on the two was justified. She found that it was.
Infernal Affairs (Wu jian dao)
This stylistic, smart movie takes the classic crime plot of police versus criminals and turns it into a tense, exciting battle of wits. Police Superintendent Wong takes his best police cadet, Yan, and has him go undercover to become a mole in the drug-running Triad gang. Unbeknownst to them, the Triad's leader, Sam, is doing the exact same thing with a young gang member, Lau, who has a clean record and will be accepted into police cadet school. After years pass both Lau and Yan have become accepted, valuable members of their respective groups. During a drug bust, both the police and the Triad gang become aware that each has been infiltrated by a mole. In an ironic move, the moles are both so trusted that each is tasked by his superior with discovering who the mole is within his own group. Simultaneously, each is contacted by his real boss and told to discover who the mole is in the other group. What follows is a fascinating plot twist in which each mole struggles to retain his anonymity. while discovering the other's identity. This movie is gripping until the very end and keeps you guessing the entire time. Everything is masterfully brought together in the last ten minutes with a denouement that gives the entire movie unexpected depths.
This movie was so popular in Hong Kong that it inspired two sequels, Infernal Affairs II which actually was a prequel, and Infernal Affairs III which continues the story begun in the original movie. We watched this movie in the original Cantonese with English subtitles. It was fascinating to hear the large quantity of English scattered through regular conversation. “Channel,” “sorry,” “entrance,” “ok,” “bye,” and “sir” are just a few of the words constantly breaking the pattern of Chinese dialogue. HC rating: **** 9 thumbs up! This review originally appeared in Spero News.
Masters of Science Fiction
Rose and I watched the first two episodes of this anthology being shown by ABC on Saturdays. These are some classic science fiction stories adapted for television and featuring excellent acting and directing. It occurred to us that Rose has really never seen true science fiction, thinking that science fiction equates to "Twilight Zone" style shows. These were the real thing and although the end of the second one was unutterably sappy that was the story's fault, not that of the performers. Both had a high level of interest and had us involved in talking about plot as it went along. There are two more scheduled to air and I highly recommend them.
HC rating system: key