Immortals (2011)

Hollywood is now officially crazy about Greek mythology and graphic novels that are inspired by Greek mythology (note Troy, 300, Clash of the Titans, Immortals), and there will be lots more ahead thanks to the ever-growing fan base of this newfound mania.

From wafer-thin exotic female seers, to muscle popping masculine heroes, these Greek mythology inspired films seem to get their bucks from the eye-candy they provide. This seems to be a consistent trait that has helped push the box office successes of these films.

‘Immortals’ is no different. Tarsem Singh’s latest mythology inspired story is about the poor son of a single mother who learns of his purpose (thanks to being favoured by the Gods) of defeating a ruthless king who wants to free the Titans using the fabled Epirus Bow.

The name of the hero is Theseus, but he has no bearing to the original Greek mythology hero of the same name. There are a few sprinkles of what can be called ‘a homage’ to original Greek mythology – but nothing more.

Our hero is a self doubting one, who does not believe in the Gods. He however learns that his destiny is to defeat an evil king and stop him from unleashing the Titans who could destroy humanity as well as the Gods.

Additionally there is a love story with the virgin Oracle, Phaedra.

This film boasts some stunning visuals, with crystal clear images of water flowing, metal shining, and blood splattering (unfortunately). The earthy hues used as the colour palette for the film, remind one of the imagery in 300. Ultimately, the film never fails at being beautiful, visually.

Anyone looking for a lot of action and violence is sure to be thrilled. There is also a lot of eye-candy for everyone. The men have six packs and the women are your typical ramp-walking models.

The acting is far from top notch and the music is nothing note-worthy and mostly escapes attention.

FINAL VERDICT: Watch it if you really like Freida Pinto or if you like Greek mythology inspired stories and don’t mind if they deviate from the original. There’s also a lot of action and sword clanking if you enjoy that.

Avoid it if you really can’t stand Greek mythology being butchered. Also stay away if you want to see an action movie that has true emotional impact.

The Infernal Affairs Trilogy (2002-2003)

Country: Hong Kong (China)

Those who have watched the much-acclaimed and award-winning movie ‘The Departed’ might want to go back to experience the film that started it all. Though Infernal Affairs (Mou Gaan Dou) is not a household name outside Hong Kong, it is worth seeing the film that ultimately became the inspiration for Martin Scorsese’s ‘The Departed’.

The story is about cops and criminals – where drug operatives put their own mole in the police department as a spy and where the cops put their own man in the drug triads to spy. What ensues is a thrilling tale of cat and mouse chases and alternate personalities. The ‘moles’, both of whom live double lives, have to make choices based on what is most important to them.

Whereas the first film, starring Tony Leung, Andy Lau, Eric Tsang, Anthony Wong, et al, is the captivating tale of how both the mafia and the police department discovers that moles from opposing sides have infiltrated their teams, the subsequent films act as prequels and sequels, adding more layers to the story of the first film.

The films feature a stellar cast (but note that Tony Leung and Andy Lau are not there in the second film, where their ‘young’ versions are played by Shawn Yue and Edison Chen.)

Infernal Affairs II is a prequel, throwing more light onto the characters in the first film. Not much can be said about it without revealing spoilers. There is more about the protagonists (the moles), as well as the drug triad bosses and the police chiefs. Though there is no strong link between the first and second film (apart from the characters), it cannot be ignored as part of the trilogy.

Infernal Affairs III is a sequel to the first film but it brings back all the characters from the trilogy (including Andy Lau and Tony Leung), and is less of a crime thriller and more of a psychological thriller which attempts to weave the story subtly around Buddhist concepts of good and bad.

Do not go to watch these films expecting the protagonists to speak English and act all American. Yes, one is bound to make comparisons with the Departed. However, what one has to understand is that the Departed took some ideas from all three films and put it in one. However, the concept is still a clear winner here, and it’s quite sad that when the Departed won the Oscars that year, they hailed Infernal Affairs as a Japanese movie. Ouch.

It is a Hong Kong film, with its stunning cityscape present in many scenes. It is not your normal Hollywood fare but the trilogy definitely gets addictive and is really a good example of top class Asian cinema.

The trilogy also benefits from having two directors who made all three movies consistently. Andrew Lau and Alan Mak create a compelling set of films that you are sure to watch with full attention.

Also check out the soundtracks of all three films, which feature some great music by famed Hong Kong composer Chan Kwong Wing.

FINAL VERDICT: Watch it if you want to enjoy an engrossing piece of action-drama that also draws from Buddhist philosophy.

Avoid it if you think that the Departed is the best in its genre and if you do not think Asian cinema can stand up against Hollywood cinema.