Internal Affairs

This is the original Chinese movie that inspired Martin Scorsese’s ‘The Departed‘. Almost 80% of the plot  line is exactly the same as ‘The Departed’ and the fact that Martin Scorsese won the Academy Award for Best Director for a movie that is almost a replica of the original movie is a sad thing. The guy made Casino, Good Fellas and Taxi Driver. Any one of those movies could have fetched him an Oscar, but they gave him the award for adapting a Chinese movie. Its like A.R Rahman getting the Academy Award for ‘Jai Ho‘. Sure its a good song, but its not even close to his earlier works. But I digress.

In Internal Affairs, the film moves very fast and there is very little happening outside the scope of the main characters. The two Chinese cops (equivalent to Matt Damon and Leonardo Di Caprio from The Departed) crowd the entire movie and everyone else plays just enough supporting role that we know they are there but we don’t really remember them at the end. Many of the pivotal scenes from the movie are exactly the same as the American version like, the cat-and-mouse scene at the theater, murdered gang member being a cop and, yes, the final elevator scene too. But like I said in the beginning of the paragraph, the Chinese version moves very fast.

The only time it slows down is when there are dialogues between the main characters. Since I was not familiar with either of these guys, I think, I was able to enjoy it much more. They were not being suave with their approach, like their Hollywood counterparts, and there was some sense of morbidity towards their actions and decisions. Both of them realize that they were not going to make it out alive when the operation comes to an end and when they make their final play the inevitable twist seemed much more devastating, even though I had already seen the ending from The Departed. I guess that is as a good an indicator of how great the movie is as any. Any movie is remarkable if it can surprise you even when you know the plot already.

The American version added a lot of back story for the main characters, but ‘Internal Affairs’ merely brushes past some of them. This was the only place where I think Martin Scorsese improved the movie, since knowing the background of the characters gives a good sense of their real identity and motives. But other than that, Internal Affairs was much better than The Departed.

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