review for Infernal Affairs III on AllMovie

Infernal Affairs III (2003)
by Josh Ralske review

While Tony Leung's presence is always welcome, returns continue to diminish with the third and final installment of the Infernal Affairs trilogy. It's a new production, but it could just as easily be a collection of Infernal Affairs deleted scenes culled from the cutting room floor. One of the prime virtues of the first film was its exemplary tautness, so it's unfortunate that it spawned two sloppy sequels each 20 minutes longer than the original. At least Infernal Affairs II told a new story. Infernal Affairs III primarily flashes back to fill in gaps in the first film that never really needed to be filled. The first film was perfectly self-contained, and we really learned all we needed to know about Yan, Ming, and all of their associates. Further plot developments involving Ming's (Andy Lau) continued spiritual torment and the introduction of two mysterious new characters, shady cop Yeung (Leon Lai) and mainland cipher Shen (Chen Daoming), provide the requisite twists and reversals, but it doesn't really add up to much. Infernal Affairs III, like the first two, is well shot and features an outstanding cast (Leung and Chapman To, in particular, get to explore their characters a bit further), but it all seems fairly unnecessary. The sequels are like archival materials, worthy of a deluxe DVD extra, but they barely stand on their own as feature films.