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Election (Hak seh wui) (2005)

  Directed by: Johnny To
Written by: Nai-Hoi Yau, Tin-Shing Yip
Starring: Louis Koo, Tony Leung Ka Fai, Tian-lin Wang, Simon Yam
Links: Election on the IMDb
Genre: Suspense/Horror/Thriller

This movie gets: 8.00 (1 rating)
nofreelist.com Ranking: not yet ranked (awaiting 2 ratings)

"The machinations of triad politics exposed" - a review by timchuma

In his introduction to the screening of this movie at the 2005 Melbourne International Film Festival, Johnny To said that in this film, he wanted to show the history of the triads and how they have degenerated into violence since they started over 300 years ago.

As it was the first screening since Cannes, he also wanted people in the audience to report anyone illegally recording the movie. Once it opens in Hong Kong the Triads will pirate it to sell on VCD anyway (fun with irony).

This movie follows the lead-up to and fallout from the election of a new leader of the Wo Sing triad in Hong Kong. Big D (Tony Leung Ka Fai) is very impulsive, and he is trying to get the leadership by bribing all the "uncles" (senior leaders) of the triad. Lok (Simon Yam) is more level-headed and knows he has to work within the system to succeed, so he doesn't overstate his case in the triad leadership. In one great scene, he continues to have dinner with his son when he learns he has won the election.

Big D is a very poor loser and kidnaps two of the uncles to torture them just out of spite. The police arrest all the leaders as a matter of course and to keep them from each other's throats and the negotiations continue in the cells. The scene in which the former leader, Uncle Teng (Tian-lin Wang), kept having to pull up his pants whilst talking to Big D was really funny.

As the baton is raced back to Hong Kong amongst much fighting and drama, the negotiations continue amongst the leaders. Will they come to a conclusion or not? Can Lok ever really trust Big D, or will he try to grab for power? I'll let you find out for yourself.

This is not a usual triad movie with the focus on violent fights and melodramatic love stories. I thought it was a strange choice for the closing night film for the festival, as I probably wouldn't have gone to see it at Chinatown Cinema because I have seen many other triad movies and I usually know what to expect from them.

I always enjoy when a movie brings something different to the genre and this movie did so with the exploration of the behind-the-scenes negotiations between the triads. This movie gets a slightly higher score from me as I saw Johnny To partying hard at the festival's closing night party, and he is a good dancer and a hit with the ladies.

timchuma gives this movie 8 out of 10.
Review created on Mon 8 Aug 2005

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