Allegories of Hell: Moral Tales and National Shadows

Gina Marchetti

in Andrew Lau and Alan Mak's Infernal Affairs - The Trilogy

Published by Hong Kong University Press

Published in print April 2007 | ISBN: 9789622098015
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9789882206601 | DOI:
Allegories of Hell: Moral Tales and National Shadows

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Infernal Affairs presents a story that includes layers attached to traditional preoccupations with Buddhism, Confucianism, clan loyalties, and patriarchal prerogatives, to questions of colonialism/post-colonialism and the issue of “national” identity, and to postmodern preoccupations with the transnational, post-industrial economy, consumerism, and the information society. The trilogy opens up to multiple allegorical readings that co-exist within the narrative — occasionally contradicting one another, supporting one another, or canceling each other out. The moral allegory exhausts itself, and the possibility of looking at Infernal Affairs as a political allegory about the Chinese nation and the transformation of the colonial state emerges. The policing in Hong Kong are described. Looking at Infernal Affairs as an allegory about the legitimate right of the People's Republic of China (PRC) to step out of the “shadows” to participate more fully in Hong Kong affairs for the greater good of the citizenry on both sides of the border may really miss the point.

Keywords: Infernal Affairs; Hong Kong; Buddhism; Confucianism; colonialism; national identity; consumerism; moral allegory; political allegory; People's Republic of China

Chapter.  14729 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Film

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