The violence of time and memory undercover : Hong Kong’s infernal affairs

Wing Sang LAW

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


1997 as a global media spectacle about Hong Kong’s handover of its sovereignty from Britain to China is now almost forgotten; yet Hong Kong is still caught between the politics of time and memory too complex to be captured under simple post‐colonialist notion such as ‘hybridity’. This paper tries to put in perspective a (post‐)colonial cultural politics of counter‐memory in Hong Kong cinema by investigating its decades‐long investment in a sub‐genre built around the motif of undercover‐cop. Specifically, the example of the blockbuster Infernal Affairs series is analyzed in details, with particular attention to its innovative plot, to show how the ‘structure of feeling’ about Hong Kong’s political fate is embedded in the films underpinning their local box‐office success. The allegorical reading of the film series attempted in this paper also connects the discussion about the ‘political unconscious’ of Hong Kong, now and in the past, with the wider problem of how the future political subjectivity of Hong Kong will take shape.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)383-402
Number of pages20
JournalInter-Asia Cultural Studies
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2006


  • Hong Kong
  • Memory
  • allegory
  • gangster films
  • structure of feeling
  • time
  • undercover


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