Despite having made more than 30 movies that have sold reasonably well in Taiwan, Andrew Lau, or Lau Wai-keung (
When responding to questions, Lau is always fast, straightforward and clear (in spite of his not-so-fluent Mandarin), a way of talking which is similar to his terse and sharp narrative film style.
Though he has been making films since the 1980s, 43 year-old Lau was clearly inspired by John Woo (
But having directed films for 16 years and having made 32 movies, it is only recently that he has been embraced by the media.
No wonder he looked so
emotional when he took home both Best Director and Best Picture awards in April at the Hong Kong Film Awards (
The first Infernal Affairs grossed HK$51 million (US$7.1 million). The movie was bought by Miramax for US release and Warner Brothers has snapped up the rights for the film which will be produced by Brad Pitt's production company.
In Taiwan, Infernal Affairs has dominated nominations for the upcoming 40th Golden Horse Awards, being nominated in 12 categories, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actors and Best Cinematography.
"Actually, the award I want to win the most is the Best Cinematography category," Lau said.
Camera work has always been Lau's favorite. He has been nominated for Best Cinematography nearly 10 times for different awards, but without success.
"In the beginning, I was just intrigued by the idea of a triad member infiltrating the police," Lau said.
Making a crime drama was not difficult for Lau. Since 1991, he has made Young and Dangerous (
But when Lau was planning for Infernal Affairs, he decided to take a different working approach.
"It was in May of 2002, the [Hong Kong] film industry had slumped and it was a tough time for filmmaking. We had very limited budgets and we could not waste a penny," Lau said. "The only thing we could do was to have a fully prepared script and a good working plan," Lau said.
Where Lau departed from the Hong Kong crime drama formula was by making his heroes live in pain and frustration.
"I wanted to present a different kind of action movie. The gun shots in the first Infernal Affairs are only 15 seconds," Lau said. "For me, sometimes, the violence of language or gesture are worse than physical violence."
The most violent part of the movie, he said, is the tension between the characters, set off by history. Infernal Affairs II was connected to Hong Kong's shift of sovereignty in 1997.