Thursday, June 28, 2007


After yesterday's salad, I went to see Johnny To's recent two-part gangland opus, Election (Hak se wui; literally: Black Society, 2005)* and it's sequel Triad Election (Hak se wui yi wo wai kwai; Black Society 2, Triads Value Peace Most, subtitled Election 2 on this international print, 2006).* These movies, made back-to-back, work so seamlessly in concert they feel like one epic film with an overlong intermission. This is not only because the movies share a cast and an overarching story, but also the second movie ratchets the intensity so much it acts as the first film's climax. Election tells the story of the Wo Shing Triad's chairman election in Hong Kong. Each chairman rules mob society for two years before the next chairman is chosen. As the movie begins, Lok is chosen over the best coercive efforts of opponent Big D, who is unwilling to let the matter rest. Commandeering the one-hundred-year symbol of gangland power from the outgoing chairman, he hides it from the chairman-elect in mainland China. This instigates a whirling kaleidoscope of shifting allegiances and political tolerances. Lok attempts to secure his power, and it's symbol, while dodging Big D, the police, and out-and-out gang war between factions. Election 2 starts two years later, when the winner of the previous election is facing replacement. He decides to break the hundred-year tradition mandating the chairmanship be regulated to one term. This results in an even bloodier uphill battle for the new candidates. Both films are glorious in the traditional HK way, and glossy but ultimately standard entries in the gangster genre. More disappointingly, the flamboyant action scenes of this film's more romanticized antecedents have here given way to mere violence. But if nothing else, the loving presentation of Hong Kong City itself is worth admission. [Cavin]

Then, a 0 sided conversation ensued...

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