Alan Mak Not Happy With ‘The Departed’

By Butterboom Writers  /  February 27, 2007

Original screenwriter has some words for Scorsese.


The movie is 4 years old and we’re STILL talking about it! Alan Mak Siu Fai, co-writer and co-director of Infernal Affairs, the original Hong Kong film that the Oscar-awarded winning The Departed was based on, has mixed reactions to his film and Martin Scorsese’s win accoring to a front page story in today’s SCMP:

Alan Mak Siu-fai, co-writer and co-director of 2002’s Infernal Affairs, on which The Departed is based, said the script adaptation by American William Monahan “has not gone far enough” in offering a vision distinct from the original. “It stuck so close to the original it looked like they are just making Infernal Affairs again – well in that case, I’m, of course, happy because it is like Infernal Affairs winning an Oscar,” he said in an interview with the South China Morning Post.

“Of course, I wouldn’t want my screenplay to be moved about when it was made into a film for the first time [by co-director Andrew Lau Wai-keung] – but when it was being used for the second time I would have hoped some new elements were being introduced to it,” Mak said.

He also objected to the one significant twist in The Departed, in which both lead characters die. In Infernal Affairs, which Mak co-wrote with Felix Chong Man-keung and co-directed with Andrew Lau Wai-keung, Andy Lau’s villainous mole survives at the expense of Leung’s undercover cop.

“With the death of Matt Damon’s character, the symbolism in the film’s gone – it was designed so that the opportunist lives and has to face a life led on false pretences.”

Mak said he was sent only the first draft of Monahan’s work after Warner Brothers bought the remake rights to the film for US$1.75 million in 2003, and had not heard from the organisation since. “Somewhere along the way I heard they wanted to position The Departed as a film that was only `inspired’ by our story, rather than an adaptation,” Mak said, so that he had “expected them to sweep the traces [of the original] clean anyway”.

Nevertheless, in a media release later yesterday, Mak said he was “honoured” by The Departed‘s win and pleased to have played a part in the triumph of Scorsese, who had been unsuccessfully nominated as best director five times.

I’m going out on a limb here and saying that I enjoyed the Martin Scorsese version a bit more than the Hong Kong one because of the powerful perfomances, the extra hour that delved more into the characters, the tie-in of the female lead with both male leads but loses points on the Boston-setting (not gritty enough) and I do agree with Mr. Mak’s assesment in that the ending was too Hollywood and that the Andy Lau/Matt Damon character should have gotten away clean – if for no other reason than to see The Departed 2.


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