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Kyoko Altman

Hong Kong, China

Kyoko Altman has worked as a correspondent and anchor for CNN and CNBC, and as a news-magazine reporter for Japan's top-ranked news program 'News Station' on TV Asahi. She has covered more than twenty countries. Close.

Kyoko Altman

Hong Kong, China

Kyoko Altman has worked as a correspondent and anchor for CNN and CNBC, and as a news-magazine reporter for Japan's top-ranked news program 'News Station' on TV Asahi. more »

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Martin Scorsese's Movie, The Departed, Weakens Hong Kong Classic

The movie The Departed -- a remake of the Hong Kong classic Infernal Affairs -- may be considered one of the hottest movies of the year in America. But here in Asia most film critics and movie-goers agree that the original is far superior.

Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post wrote “With The Departed, Martin Scorsese had it all: (the thriller plot, the A-list actors – Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon and Jack Nicholson). Sadly his remake of Infernal Affairs is a classic case of how the whole can be so much less than the sum of its parts.” Japan’s Daily Yomiuri concurred: “The Departed shows how tough it is to do a good remake -- even for Martin Scorsese and a trio of stars.” And Singapore’s Straits Times, echoing the voices of many moviegoers in Asia, declared “Infernal Affairs, the Hong Kong original, was better than The Departed.”

The movie is about a showdown between a police officer who becomes a mole in the gangster world and a gangster who infiltrates the police. It is about trust and betrayal in the violent underground world. The original stars Tony Leung, the first Hong Kong actor to win a Best Actor award at Cannes Film Festival, as the police officer. Andy Lau who holds the title as Hong Kong’s biggest-grossing movie star plays the gangster. And the film was directed by two veterans of Hong Kong’s action cinema: Andrew Lau and Alan Mak. Hailed for its quality of script and production, Infernal Affairs nabbed all the top awards at the Chinese Oscars in 2003.

Asia’s critics point out that Scorcese’s rendering of the plot into good vs. evil in The Departed strips the story of subtlety and depth that made the original intriguing. They also pan the acting in The Departed: “DiCaprio doesn’t have the maturity of Leung, and Damon seems only half as cool as Lau,” writes Japan’s Daily Yomiuri.

Meantime Beijing’s censors have banned The Departed from the mainland because it shows gangsters trying to sell computer technology to ethnic Chinese villains. Beijing initially banned ‘Infernal Affairs,’ too, because the censors thought the ending was unethical. They didn’t like the gangster getting away with murder. The Hong Kong directors quickly shot an alternative ending for the mainland in which the gangster gets arrested by authorities. Interestingly, Scorsese’s ending of The Departed is similar to the mainland version in that the gangster doesn’t get off scot-free either – he gets shot by a former cop.

Watch the DVD of Infernal Affairs and you will have a chance to choose the movie’s ending – the Hong Kong version or the mainland version. Either way, Asia’s critics say, it still beats the American remake.

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