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NTSC/Region 0. The time has come, as it does every two years, for the senior members of Hong Kong's oldest triad, the Wo Shing Society, to elect a new chairman. Fierce rivalries emerge between the two eligible candidates. One is favored to win, but his rival is willing to ignore triad tradition by influencing the vote with money and violence. Wo Shing's ancient symbol of leadership, the Dragon's head baton, goes missing. A ruthless struggle for power eurpts and the race to retrieve the baton threatens to tear Wo Shing in two 2006.
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a triad godfather as seen in CASINO 1997 by Billy Tang, for ex§) is a
movie intended for fans of this genre, underlying the testosterone,
discipline and ancient traditions aspects of masculinity.
Either the script's writer had a bad nightmare on which this movie
was constructed, or the writer simply decided to show a very limited,
narrow range of what comprises humanity, and understanding the latter
either poorly, or not heving been exposed to very much of it, in
The aforementioned aspects seems to eat away at the classy aspects
that a picture craves, this film suffering also from the homicidal
behavior that the movie shows at the 90 min mark.
The strong point of this picture, is a story centering on the
election of a triad successor, which the audience will recognize as
similar to modern politics. Any strategy is good, to get to the top
...payoffs to electors preparing to cast their votes to win their
favor, maneuvering, violence, kidnappings, brutality, financial
enticements all the while, with a law enforcement presence that
delays, complicates and hinders the entire underground electoral
Key street-level bosses are called in a meeting, to vote for one
candidate or another, raising their hand to signal their approval.
Interestingly, the defeated candidates don't abandon victory so soon
or easily, fully conscious that it's fully possible to gain the upper
hand and coerce opponents with some effort and skill, from their
genetic make-ups as triad leaders having climbed to the top, to the
point of being candidates for the top dog position.
The film is no-nonsense, preferring to show only professional
dealings vs. a wide spectrum of emotions, such as humor, sex,
drinking, amusement or other lighter sides of things, which is
unrealistic, in terms of accepting the proposition overall in terms
of both private and public lives that make up these trial people.
An aspect underlined is loyalty, an oath taken by soldiers in the
triad, to the point that, a member is made to break his porcelain
spoon, crack it and eat it on the orders of his boss, without
questioning, much as military soldiers are trained to do, in a
pavlovian reaction. Other instances show the ruthlessness and
willingness to die openly admitted by members, in favor of their
gang, their minds stamped with the triad's codified rules of conduct,
as a brotherhood, with and loyalty standing above everything else.
Cash generating activities are referenced, such as drugs, gambling,
black market reselling of tainted chickens and commodities, etc.
The filming is very good, with a pleasing high-quality widescreen,
showing Hong Kong, mostly in closed meetings, versus open air,
outdoor locations, from which the movie somewhat suffers, coupled
with a decision to create suspense and tension over 1 hour over the
pursuit of a dragon baton symbol.
A sarcastic criticism of the law, is made, when a top law officer is
presented, and openly admits having reached the top of the echelon by
having agreed early in his career to infiltrate a gang, betray their
trust, later busting them with incriminating evidence, suggesting
dishonorable conduct among that law officers, and that they, the
triad members, are the true honorable men, self-righteous as they
The difficulty in controlling 50,000 to 300,000 men, all belonging to
underground triad organizations is understood by these, which limits
the range of crackdowns they can carry out.
A clear decision was made to limit action scenes in the movie, and to
limit the presence of guns and bullets almost entirely, which eats
away at the entertainment aspects of the movie, too.
Overall, in addition to the above aspects, ELECTION will interest
those viewers who tend to believe there is more than what meets in
the eye, in terms of cash flows, businesses, commerce, and political
icons in the modern world.
There are behaviors occurring behind the scenes, secret
organizations, not unlike Freemasonry for example. Also those who are
at the top, much like the boss in any corporation, only with much
difficulty will relinquish his position. More likely, they are
ever-vigilant of any new competitor arriving to whom the godfather
position in the triad, consciously, or unconsciously, appeals to
them, and will take them out if needed, promptly.
Very pleasant surprise for me was seeing David Chiang outside of the old Shaw brother movies I am trying to collect. Will have to check 'Hong Kong Cinemagic' to see what else I might have missed.
So the movie has two of my favorites people in Louis Koo and David Chiang, a great story, a great cast and all the actors did their best. For me, that's 5 stars.
The simple synopsis - two mob bosses, one all business and one all bluster, compete for leadership of their gang. When the election doesn't go the way some want, all hell breaks loose, threatening the stability of the already teetering Hong Kong underworld.
Tony Leung Ka Fai won the acting award for his Nicholson-esqe over-the-top performance as the loud mouth, obnoxious mob boss, but it is Simon Yam that really shines in his role - the transformation of his character over the course of this film is a 2-hour acting lesson that totally blew me away.
The U.S. DVD has all the special features that were on the Hong Kong 2-Disc Special Edition, but at a nicer price, and the transfer is excellent. I can't recommend this film enough, and the Tartan DVD is the way to go.
Attention Canadians - the Canadian release (not from Tartan) is bare-bones, this is the one to get if you are interested in special features!
Extras on the 2-disc set aren't over-plentiful, but the interviews with Johnnie To, Simon Yam (always at his best under To's direction, and possibly never better here), Wang Tianlin and Tony Leung Ka Fei are more in-depth and thoughtful than usual. Also included are a brief featurette (like the interviews subtitled in English), stills galleries, 2 unsubtitled TV spots, 2 unsubtitled theatrical trailers, and booklet.
This being Hong Kong style, the dialect is local and hard hitting. Thoroughly enjoyable.
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