After the success of the Infernal Affairs trilogy（无间道三部曲）, Tony Leung had expressed intentions of working with director-scriptwriter Alan Mak again. But where Leung was hoping for a film along the lines of Infernal Affairs which he felt would be more widely accepted by audiences, Mak wanted to explore new territories in his collaboration with the versatile actor. Observing that despite an illustrious film career where Leung has played many different characters, the writer-director pointed out that Leung has rarely been cast as a villain.
“The audiences have always seen him as a gentleman so we wanted to try something new. We naturally had doubts if it would work. And actually, we had initially wanted to cast him as Bong, a former police officer turned private detective who is finding it difficult to come to terms with his girlfriend’s suicide.
“Tony was agreeable and knew that he would have no problems playing the role. He gave us a lot of ideas when we (co-writer Felix Chong and him) were developing Bong’s character. But later on, all three of us decided that he should instead take on Hei’s character, the villain of the piece. Hei was orphaned at a young age and for 20 years he plotted to exact revenge on the man who massacred his parents,” explained Mak.
Of Takeshi Kaneshiro, Mak explained that Chong and him wanted to pair Leung with a younger actor.
“We thought that it would be a good testing ground for the actor to go up against a veteran like Leung. Luckily for us, Takeshi immediately agreed.”
Mak went on to explain that the movie looked at how people dealt with pain and the recovery process.
“Each of us has our own painful and sad experiences. The way in which we deal with them is different but what is important is how we pick ourselves up and stand tall again.”
When it was pointed out that Confession of Pain – like past efforts such as Infernal Affairs and Initial D （头文字D）– is a bloke’s movie, Mak had this to say: “Our movies are skewed towards males because of two reasons. The first is that the movie industry is driven and dominated by males. This has affected investors’ decisions when it comes to making movies. The second is because both Felix and I are men. In the past I’ve tried to write stories for women but they weren’t well received. I guess it’s because the story didn’t accurately capture their inner emotions and feelings. I will admit that I do not understand how a woman thinks!
“But I have to say that where many people felt that Sammi Cheng and Kelly Chen’s characters in Infernal Affairs were mere eye candy, it is different in Confession of Pain. Confession of Pain is a story about how two male protagonists deal with and pull through from their tragic past. It’s also a story about men and women. The two female characters (played by Xu Jinglei and Shu Qi) are important to the development of the story as they hold influence over the two leading men and the decisions they make.”