Cultural Film Series features Hong Kong muse for ‘Departed’

Andrew Perez

Before “The Departed,” there was “Infernal Affairs.” Few films in the past decade have had such a dramatic impact on the cinematic world than “Mou Gaan Dou” or “Infernal Affairs” as it is named in the United States.

Hong Kong directors Wai-keung Lau and Siu Fai Mak worked together to create a classic that was later adapted by one of the best directors of our time, Martin Scorsese, who won best director for “The Departed.”

Wai-keung Lau and Siu Fai Mak create a story of deception as the cops and a powerful gang called the Triads each send a member to infiltrate each other’s group.

Each side is equally successful in not only sending one of its own but having them fit in and become unnoticeable. Throughout the film, each mole is faced with dilemmas that affect both his position in the group and his conscience.

Each of the moles tries to serve his respective group while making moral and occupational decisions to remain inconspicuous.

This path is explained in the title, “Mou Gaan Dou,” which translates literally to the “nonstop path” that each mole faces.

The title also refers to a Sanskrit Buddhist term, avivinakara, which means the “endless hell,” and it is the deepest of all hells in Buddhism.

In fact, the film begins and ends with a Buddhist quotation that claims a spot in hell is reserved for those who are tormented by guilt.

The English title is more of a play on words, as the phrase “internal affairs” is altered to reference Dante’s “Inferno.” In any language, “Mou Gaan Dou” was highly acclaimed by critics and all but swept the 22nd Hong Kong Film Awards by winning best film, best director, best screenplay, best actor, best supporting actor and best editing.

Many of these same awards were given to the film and its cast by numerous other award ceremonies.

In addition to its prizes, the film was also a huge hit in the box office and was said to have revitalized the Hong Kong film industry which had fallen into a slump by 2002.

“Infernal Affairs” is the opener for Villanova’s spring Cultural Film & Lecture Series, “Cosmopolitanism: The World on Film.” 

It will be screened four times in the Connelly Center Cinema: Saturday at 7 p.m., Sunday at 3:30 and 7 p.m. and Monday at 7 p.m. 

It will be shown in its original languages – Cantonese, English and Thai – with English subtitles. 

For the first time, admission is free for students with ID, and it remains $5 for all others. 

Communication department professor Seth Mulliken will be the guest speaker at the Monday screening only, and he will provide an introduction to the film and lead a discussion afterward.

For more information, contact the communications department at X9-4750 on weekdays between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., or consult the Villanova Cultural Film Series web page: