Double Face

Original Title: ダブルフェイス

TBS: Undercover Investigation (ダブルフェイス 潜入捜査編)
WOWOW: Police Disguise (ダブルフェイス 偽装警察編)

Double Face is a two-part television drama collaboration between TBS (open network) and WOWOW (paid). It is a remake of the successful Hong Kong film Infernal Affairs (無間道), which was in turn remade by Martin Scorsese into The Departed not long ago. If you’re not familiar with the story, we follow an undercover policeman, in this case Jun Moriya (Hidetoshi Nishijima), working for the yakuza and infiltrating their ring for years only to find out the yakuza have a mole, Ryosuke Takayama (Teruyuki Kagawa), who has been working at the police force for years as well.

Working against each other and with each other.

Lauded as one of the finest Hong Kong films, Infernal Affairs had its negative traits — cheesy flashbacks come to mind, of course — but it built itself on its characters’ feelings and dreams, while Scorsese’s vision reduced them to mere cool players for whom you felt nothing for. In this interesting collaboration between two channels, they seem to achieve a nice balance technically and emotionally with great acting from its leads — who even look a little bit like Hong Kong stars Tony Leung and Andy Lau, if you squint a little.

However, while Anthony Wong’s superintendent Wong was the star on Affairs, the star on Double Face seems to be Teruyuki Kagawa, whose storyline — aired on WOWOW — is the most changed to fit not only his developments, which felt completely different to Lau’s own inspector role, but to also fit in an extra storyline with Yu Aoi, who reprises the role Sammi Cheng once played… sort of. Of course, those changes divert a lot of the dynamic of the story, making Kagawa’s Takayama a lot darker than Lau’s simple “leave behind my life as a thug” dream.

For those of us who had seen Infernal Affairs and The Departed before, the biggest change had to be seeing Yu Aoi’s Mari character expanded the way it was, which didn’t necessarily help the plot, but proved to show Aoi’s skill to own a character. Oftentimes, Mari feels uncertain and seems to be a lot more picturesque than intended, often describing Aoi as a little wild or as a tomboy (was the now-infamous haircut the reason for this dialogue?), but we saw very little of it. While Emi Wakui’s Dr. Nishida lacked a bit of the spark that the short-lived Kelly Chen role had with Tony Leung, though the developments of that relationship was nearly left untouched.

The famous spinning rooftop shot that has made Infernal Affairs a staple on movie montages is practically there as a HUGE homage to the movie that made the series possible, and though Double Face might feel a bit redundant if you’re a fan of the original, it’s still worth a watch.

Rating: ★★★¼☆ 

Ghost Writer

Here. There. Everywhere. Punished soul that usually watches what nobody wants, but sometimes gets lucky.

2 Responses

  1. amy says:

    Hmmmmmmmm… I should write that Infernal Affairs review. I liked Fumiyo Kohinata in here too, even though he was like~~~ the complete opposite of Eric Tsang xD he was like Eric Tsang and Carina Lau meshed together but more cruel and creepy~~~

    And I wonder if Yu-chan’s storyline had any subtext. They just kept mentioning so damn much that she had short hair and she was such a tomboy.

  2. ghost says:

    You’re right about Kohinata, his warmth as a character seems to stem from Carina Lau’s character, who takes in Takayama at an even younger age, which makes his destiny all the more important than Moriya’s in this adaptation.

    It also rose the stakes in Takayama final confrontation because they’ve had a father/son relationship for a good chunk of their lives.

    I’m still not sure about the change of characters for Yu’s role on this one, storywise. But whatever fits their fancy.

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