Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Election 2 AKA Triad Election (2006)

All of the main players return for this sequel to/continuation of Election, once again directed by Johnnie To and once again written by Nai-Hoi Yau and Tin-Shing Yip.

As if you couldn't guess from the title, it's time for the Wo Shing society (A Hong Kong Triad group) to hold another election. Lok (Simon Yam) has held his position well, but now starts to think of ways in which he can change the traditions and get himself a second term in the big chair. You know what they say about power corrupting. Lok doesn't have any major competition, at least not anyone that he can't have dealt with secretly, until smart businessman Jimmy Lee (Louis Koo) puts himself in the running. Jimmy Lee really didn't want to be dragged into the criminal world, but when he feels the pinch from the long arm of the law he realises that being chairman would allow himself to conduct his business without any such problems. Things quickly heat up as Lok and Jimmy both grow more determined to win the next election.

Election 2 can easily be viewed as a standalone movie, but it certainly benefits overall if being watched soon after the first film. However you decide to view it, this is the better of the two films anyway. Characters are given a bit more time here and a bit more to do, but they also continue on a natural path moving on from the previous movie. The script and pacing are both better this time around, To directs again with his neat and straightforward style and the occasional moments of gruesome violence are even nastier than anything in Election.

The cast, including Tian-lin Wang, Nick Cheung, Ka Tung Lam and Suet Lam, all do a fantastic job, but the scenes really crackle whenever the focus is on Simon Yam as Lok, a man now greedy and desperate to hold on to his power, or Louis Koo as Jimmy,  not really wanting the whole criminal lifestyle, but willing to do what needs done as a temporary measure. The two also have people around them that they don't want to see hurt and there's a real sense of tension while watching Lok dealing with his son or Jimmy looking after his wife.

This is a movie in which every repercussion, both emotionally and physically, can be felt. It may fit easily into the crime movie pigeonhole, but it develops into something that pushes far beyond those genre boundaries. Replace the Triads with any major organisation and replace the violence and death with the numerous other ways in which people can be hurt or betrayed and you'll see that this is, essentially, a film simply about people doing what they can to improve their lot in life and to make a prosperous and safe future for their loved ones.

Which is probably the thought process of all politicians.


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