Scott Hardie: “It ruled.”
An undercover cop infiltrates a gang while the gangster's mole infiltrates the police department, and each one works feverishly to expose the other. That's the simple premise of this surprisingly complex thriller, and it is brought terrifically to life by two actors who wear the weight of their consciences on their tired sleeves. Andy Lau plays well against the ironies tossed his way by the screenplay, such as his girlfriend's bright idea for a novel about a man with disassociative-identity disorder, but Tony Leung doesn't need the help; the painful accumulation of the ten years of hell he has suffered in his seemingly endless undercover assignment are visible every time we see his weary eyes. Like "The Grudge" and "The Eye," this is another recent Asian thriller about to get an American remake (DiCaprio, Damon, and Scorsese are a promising combination), but except for some possible trouble distinguishing the similar-looking minor characters, this version should play just fine for most American viewers. It has the brooding intensity and hunger of any De Niro or Pacino entry in the genre, and enough thematic complexity and symbolism to satisfy more discriminating viewers. The film does have a few annoyances (it has more ringing cell phones than "Cellular" for Christ's sake), but patient viewers will likely come to appreciate its carefully arranged plotline and expert sense of tone.