The Departed (2006) vs. Infernal Affairs (2002)

Beginning in — the murky underbelly of a sleazy metropolis that is intertwined with organized crime The urgent and ongoing efforts of the police force to eradicate it completely. On the one hand, there is a snitch working within the law enforcement agency, sabotaging their plans at every opportunity while wrestling with his own identity and sense of right and wrong. On the other hand, there is a police officer working undercover who is willing to give up everything in order to bring down the mafia. The two engage in a risky game of cat and mouse, which serves to bring them closer together. This setup serves as the premise for both the original INFERNAL AFFAIRS and its Hollywood remake, THE DEPARTED (or if you’re from Beantown — The Departed). Despite the fact that the two movies share an identical story outline, the ways in which they are brought to life couldn’t be more different from one another!

INFERNAL AFFAIRS is a Hong Kong action-thriller film that was released in 2002 and stars, Andy Lau and Tony Leung. Andrew Lau and Alan Mak co-directed the film. In the movie, two different deep cover operations are planned at the same time. One of them involves Lau Kin-ming, a young gangster who is sent to the police academy by his triad boss Hon Sam. On the other hand, Superintendent Wong Chi-Shing has expelled Chan Wing-yan, a young police cadet from the very same police academy. Both of these events take place around the same time. Ten years later, Lau has worked his way up through the ranks and is now working under the superintendent to bring down Hon Sam. At the same time, Chan has worked his way up through the ranks to become a trusted soldier entrenched among Hon Sam’s group.

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THE DEPARTED is an American reimagining of the original film that was released in 2006 and stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Matt Damon. The incomparable Martin Scorsese served as the film’s director. In this version of the story, Hong Kong has been switched out for Boston, and the triad has been replaced with the Irish mob. Billy Costigan Jr., played by Leonardo DiCaprio, is a good cop who goes undercover in mob boss Frank Costello’s notorious crew. Matt Damon plays the role of Colin Sullivan, who becomes a mole in the police force for mob boss Frank Costello. The movie has a number of scenarios that are repeated verbatim, including Sullivan following Costigan and the ultimate confrontation between the two characters on the rooftop.

Having said that, THE DEPARTED deviates significantly from its source material in a number of significant ways, including the introduction of a love triangle and the use of a different conclusion. Which version of the tale is the most compelling, then, and why? Which film will win: THE DEPARTED, with its more wide scope and the signature style of a respected director working at the height of his abilities, or INFERNAL AFFAIRS, with its frenetic intensity and tight pacing? To find out, we are going to have to… FACE OFF! Much like the two main characters in the films.

Shawn Knippelberg is in charge of the narration for this episode of Face Off, which was written by Paul Cooper and edited by Stephen White.