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DVD Review: Triad Election

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The gangster movie has been done so many ways, it’s increasingly difficult to find mob movies with a unique perspective. Directed by renowned Hong Kong auteur Johnny To, Triad Election (a sequel to 2005’s Election) brings a couple of new twists to both the gangland family saga and Hong Kong action film.

The movie follows Jimmy, an ambitious up and coming Triad boss in Hong Kong. But instead of expanding his pirate porn DVD empire he wants to become a legitimate businessman, bankrolling a development on the Chinese mainland. He takes a trip to meet with some associates, but ends up getting arrested in a raid. The Chinese security forces make a deal with him. If he runs for the chairman of the Wo Shing Triad Society, they will back any future business ventures on the mainland.

The chairman position is good for two years, but the current power, Lok, wants to remain for an additional term. He curries favor with some off the elders, a group of overweight old Chinese men, who look more at home playing mahjong than running a vast criminal empire. Lok senses the tide turning in Jimmy’s favor and sets loose a series of events to take Jimmy out of the picture.

One of the unique things about the movie, especially for a Hong Kong action film, is the lack of guns. When Lok’s hitmen come chasing after Jimmy, they wield knives and small swords. It’s something you would see in an old Shaw brothers kung-fu flick. The languid pacing also brings a more cerebral tone to what could have been just another bloodbath, although one particularly memorable scene brings a new level of brutality to the screen when Jimmy decides to gain support from other influential triad members via force. Let’s just say that the dog food isn’t something you’ll be seeing at your local pet store anytime soon.

The DVD extras include a couple of interviews, a “making of” feature, and the theatrical trailer. The transfer looks fantastic. Triad Election is an excellent addition to the gangster genre.

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About Scott Deitche

  • A well balanced and timely review of a movie by the new maestro of Hong Kong cinema Johnny To given that he’s just been named as the HK Oscar offering for the foreign film category with “Exiled”.