March 23, 2007


I met today with Alan Mak and Felix Chong, co-writers of the Infernal Affairs trilogy, which Alan co-directed. He and former partner Andrew Lau have had a very public parting of the ways, and Alan and Felix are forming their own company. I knew both these guys a long time before they penned the script that inspired the film that won the Oscars. Alan was assistant director on the first big film I worked on, Gen-X Cops. (He plays a prison guard in the movie, and I ended up dubbing his voice for the English version.) Felix and I were writers on the film’s sequel, Gen-Y Cops. In 2003, I had the chance to work with both of them when I was cajoled into playing a walk-on role in Infernal Affairs 2.

The studio where I record my DVD commentaries is located in the same Kwun Tong factory building as Andrew Lau’s Base Productions. As I remember it, I just dropped by one day as I was leaving, post-commentary, and the assistant director of IA2 dragged me into a side room and started measuring me for a police uniform. That’s about as much of an audition as foreign actors get on Hong Kong movies.

The police station seen in the Infernal Affairs films is actually a former government building in the New Territories town of Yuen Long. (It can also be seen in the martial arts thriller Kill Zone and in our future DD release Undercover, starring Infernal Affairs veteran Shawn Yue.) When I arrived, the place was bustling with energy, as the crew readied different parts of the building for different scenes to be shot consecutively. Anthony Wong, amiably irascible as ever, was in the make-up chair. He and I are fellow members of the Medallion survivor’s club, and worked together on a vampire actioner called The Twins Effect. I remember helping him videotape an audition for a film called Out Of Time, with Denzel Washington. He didn’t get that role, but was later cast in another international feature, The Painted Veil.

Francis Ng walks in, looking at least ten years younger than he did last time I saw him. I remember coaching him on an English speech for the film Gen-X Cops. It featured some inventively profane language, and I found it disturbing that this particular passage would be, for a while, anyway, his most fluent English vocabulary. (Check the film out to hear the dialogue concerned, which was actually edited down from the original version for fear of offending audiences in, get this!, Malaysia…) I saw Francis yesterday at the Hong Kong Film Financing forum, where he was looking for funding for his next directorial project, an epic fantasy called Bema’s Tear.

My scene called for myself and two other officers to interview Edison Chen, who plays the younger version of the Andy Lau character from the first Infernal Affairs (in which Edison cameos in the same role). One of my fellow policemen was himself on the Hong Kong force for many years. He is very keen to appraise the film-makers of any procedural errors. (I can’t help noticing that he has blond streaks in his hair, which is a no-no for serving officers in the Hong Kong police.)

Felix and I are used to working together on translating dialogue from Chinese, and we wrote the English script for the scene on the spot, in true Hong Kong movie style! Now he’s an Oscar-winning screenwriter (kind of), I realize what an honour it was to share a page of dialogue with the man. (I should have framed it when I had the chance…)

Edison and I also go back to the Gen-Y Cops days. Originally, that film was supposed to star Nicholas Tse, who had the lead in the 1st movie. Edison was signed to play the villain. Just before we began shooting, a contractual clash forced Nic to pull out, and Edison was suddenly the leading man. It was his first movie, and I worked with him on his dialogue and (on occasion) morale. This relationship proved a problem on the IA2 shoot. Edison kept cracking up when I said my lines. Why are you only laughing at me and not the other two?, I asked him, between blown takes. “Yo, because, like, those guys might be real cops,” he replied, “but you’re definitely Bey…”

I wish I could say that the great director Andrew Lau gave me some acting advice that stayed with me forever, but all I can remember him yelling is “Sit still and speak slower!” (Actually, that is pretty good acting advice.) Three shots later, I was wrapped, and left for the long journey back to Central.

If you look at my IMDB listing, you’ll note that my character name in Infernal Affairs 2 is Inspector Calvin. In Gen-X Cops, my SDU commander was called Ryan, and, in Dragon Squad, I’m Officer Kyle. These are the names of my three sons. (This family tradition may prove problematic if I ever have a daughter…) My eldest boy, Ryan, appeared in a TV commercial for a kid’s clothing line that was directed by Andrew Lau. Andrew actually operated the camera himself, and is the only person, so far, to have shot Logan pere et fil.

A fun foot-note on Infernal Affairs 2: If you check out the artwork for the IA2 DVD in the UK (where it was released by another distributor), the central image is the head of Shawn Yue photo-shopped onto the body of Chapman To. When I pointed this out, Shawn seemed outraged and Chapman flattered. Go figure…


Speaking of Infernal Affairs, when are you going to release the first film w/ accurate subs?
- Daniel Zelter, L.A. | 2007-03-27 20:09:06
You're right about that UK release, it's ridiculously bad. I thought it was the cover for some obscure gunplay movie. "Hunchbacked God of Cops."
- Gino Rossetti, South Wales, UK | 2007-03-27 21:04:44
I didn't know Lau and Mak split! When did that happen? I guess that means, unless they reunite, Confession of Pain will be their last collaboration.
- Jeff, | 2007-03-28 08:02:56
Yes Bey, your are right about the UK DVD cover -Chapman To wore the orange suit in this film not shawn but the cover displays otherwise what a mix up!!
- Andrew York, Birmingham,UK | 2007-03-28 16:32:33
Bey, you are my hero. You know everybody! Keep up the good work!
- Anne Elk, Finland | 2007-04-01 04:03:51
I suppose "Undercover" is originally titled "Wo Hu" in Hong Kong. I've somewhat helped out on the Hong Kong dvd release of this film. Made a translation of the "Making of" presentation. It wasn't much but it was there. If needed, I may assist you and your company if any revision is needed. I was in a tight schedule when I worked on it the first time around. The same goes for the commentary track in Jackie Chan's "The Myth". I know you guys own the North American rights to this movie and if you guys are working on including Stanley Tong's commentary from the Hong Kong DVD, please contact me right away. I've wanted to revise my translation to what I've originally aimed for. Scheduling was tight and I was unable to get it exactly the way I intended it to be. If this is possible, it'd be great. If my contact is needed, please ask Chris Porto. I know that you and I have both met him and that he frequently emails you, right? Anyway, please get back to me on that. It would be a huge favor for me if I can have the opportunity to get things done the way I had originally intended.
- Gary Lau, Toronto | 2007-04-12 08:55:33


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