The movie that inspired Martin Scorsese’s great Irish mob film The Departed, Infernal Affairs tells a similar story of an undercover cop making his way into the criminal underworld. In this case it is the Triads, rather than the Irish mob, who are the target of the police. The movie was co-directed by Andrew Lau and Alan Mak.
As Infernal Affairs opens, Ming (Andy Lau) is being initiated into the criminal underworld by triad boss Sam (Eric Tsang), who ends his speech to his young charges by wishing them success in the police department. Ming enters the police academy, where he excels, but sees his classmate, Yan (Tony Leung Chiu-Wai), expelled for “breaking the rules.” It turns out that Yan wasn’t actually drummed out of the force, but recruited by Superintendent Wong (Anthony Wong) as an undercover operative. Just as Ming is achieving success in the police department while secretly working for Sam, Ming is gaining Sam’s trust as a triad member, while reporting to Wong. Ten years later, both men, still undercover, have grown confused about their true identities, while their bosses, Sam and Wong, wage a battle of wits against each other. Each boss learns that the other has a mole working for him, and unwittingly entrusts the mole himself to ferret out the culprit. Ming and Yan scramble to expose one another’s identity in an effort to save their own skins.