Hong Kong-based director Alan Mak should need no introduction, but for some reason he never became a household name amongst film fans. Even though he (co)directed what may as well be the most popular and critically acclaimed trilogy coming out of Hong Kong, Mak failed to build up a huge fan club and remains somewhat in the shadows of his contemporaries.
After directing a couple of low-key films in Hong Kong, Mak got a major break when he was invited by Wai-keung Lau to co-direct the Mou Gaan Dou (Infernal Affairs) trilogy. It was the start of a successful collaboration, as they would go on to direct Tau Man Ji D (Initial D) and Seung Sing (Confession of Pain), two high-profile Hong Kong films. Sadly, Mak got a little eclipsed by Lau's success in the process.
Mak switched teams soon after and rebooted his career with Felix Chong on his side. A new collaboration that led to a series of successful films, gaining Mak some renewed international attention. Qie Ting Feng Yun (Overheard 1) and Sit Yan Fung Wan 2 (Overheard 2) both made it out of Hong Kong, while Guan Yun Chang (The Lost Bladesman) reached us with a little help of Donnie Yen's star power.
Even though Mak branched out occasionally to other genres, he's at his best when he can pen his way through stories of espionage. His latest film (The Silent War) is perfect proof of this. In the end his films may lack that little extra to make them truly stand out, but apart from the rare dud (Daai Sau Cha Ji Neui - Lady Cop & Papa Crook - is the only one that comes to mind so far) Mak delivers stylish, quality thrillers that offer tense and exhilarating stand-offs between intriguing characters.
Best film: Mou Gaan Dou III: Jung Gik Mou Gaan (Infernal Affairs 3) (4.0*)
Worst film: Daai Sau Cha Ji Neui (Lady Cop & Papa Crook) (1.5*)
Average rating: 3.27 (out of 5)