30. Infernal Affairs (2002)
So good, Scorsese remade it without bettering it. Andrew Lau and Alan Mak’s two-mole thriller inspired The Departed, but Tony Leung and Andy Lau’s cop-crook tango throws deeper, darker, deadlier shapes than Damon and DiCaprio’s double act.
Lau/Mak’s inspiration was Face/Off, but they ditch those Woo-vian bullet ballets for the psychological subterfuge of a stylish urban-existential thriller.
“There’s no redemption of any kind,” Scorsese reckoned, tapping the tragic tenor of this gripping psychodrama of duplicity.
Killer Scene: Time stands still for the rooftop face-off.
29. King Of New York (1990)
Dark and nihilistic, King Of New York sears into the memory. Walken’s Frank White is paper rich but spiritually bankrupt, a mob boss back from the Sing Sing grave to rebuild his drugs empire.
Roaming the streets of the Bronx in his stretch-limo hearse, White is New York’s Nosferatu, sucking the life from the city’s veins.
“To this day,” says Walken, “when I go to an airport, all the cops, that’s the movie they know.”
Killer Scene: Hiring subway muggers: “Come by the Plaza Hotel, I got work for you.”
28. Donnie Brasco (1997)
Pacino ditched the Don to be a goombah, his aging mafioso Lefty Ruggiero too blind to realise the guy he’s tutoring (Johnny Depp) is actually an undercover Fed.
Originally slated for Pacino and Tom Cruise, then shelved when GoodFellas went into production, Donnie Brasco was resurrected by an Englishman, Mike Newell.
The foreign ear explains the loving attention to detail as mafia lingo is deconstructed and a beautiful friendship turns out to be a fugazi.
Killer Scene: Lefty teaching Donnie how to dress, walk and talk like a wiseguy.