Director: Johnny To
Starring: Simon Yam, Louis Koo, Nick Cheung,
Lam Ka Tung, Cheung Siu Fai, Lam Suet, Wong Tin Lam, Tam Ping
RunTime: 1 hr 35 mins
Released By: Eng Wah
Rating: M18 (Violence)
Date: 27 April 2006
post-1997 Hong Kong, even the long-established “Wo Shing”
Triad Society has to succumb to the power of China. The entrepreneurial
sect leader Jimmy (Louis Koo) seems to be the perfect candidate
to lead the Society into the new Millennium. Only problem
is, Jimmy wants out.
When Jimmy’s business venture in China stalls, the Mainland
government approaches him with an offer: Become Wo Shing’s
next Chairman and lead the Society according to Mainland government’s
wishes. In return Jimmy will enjoy full government backing
of his business empire. As other candidates engage in bitter
struggle for the Chairman position, Jimmy begins to understand
the real price he has to pay for the deal…
are thankful and glad that our friends at the Board of Film
Censors have decided to give a M18-Clean rating to Election
2. It was in October last year that our local audience was
presented with a “safer” version of the predecessor
of this film. Triad ritual scenes and an “immoral”
ending were edited in the local version of Election, leaving
viewers with an incomplete picture of director Johnnie To’s
months and four Hong Kong Film Award trophies later, the auteur
of Hong Kong male cinema is back with a sequel. Besides oozing
with To’s signature masculinity, this 95-minute film
has an added touch of political commentary about the relationship
between Hong Kong and Mainland China.
up two years after the last film, Wo Shing Triad Society is
going to hold another election. Entrepreneurial Jimmy (a brooding
Louis Koo) seems to be the best candidate, but he prefers
to focus on his flourishing business in Mainland China. On
the other hand, we have Lok (an underrated Simon Yam), who
wants another two-year term being the leader of the triad.
When Jimmy realizes that being the leader may be the only
solution to pursue his dream of being a successful business
mogul, he goes all out to fight for the chairman position
with Lok, resulting in some very bloody consequences.
To the average cinema-goer, this may sound like another typical
backstabbing male-oriented drama. To those who are familiar
with To’s works, his latest movie will be another triumph
in his already critically-acclaimed filmography.
Winner of Best Director at the recent 25th Hong Kong Film
Awards, To reliably delivers the goods - telling a story of
power struggles and dominance in a gritty style. Those familiar
with the political situation of Hong Kong and Mainland China
will also find the film brilliant in its allegory of the current
condition between the two states.
As there are quite a handful of characters in the film, viewers
may be confused initially about the relationships between
them. It definitely helps if you have caught the first film.
Moreover, there are a few side plots which may confuse the
uninitiated even more. These factors may cause the film to
lose its viewers half an hour into the show.
However, we strongly recommend that one sit through the movie,
simply because of its captivating cast and production values.
There are strong performances from the leading roles played
by Koo and Yam to the numerous supporting characters played
by familiar faces like Nick Cheung, Lam Ka Tung and Mark Cheng.
Cheung exudes energy in his role as the loyal assassin; Lam
portrays forcefulness in a character that might have been
easily drowned out by such a strong ensemble of actors; while
Cheng returns makes a return to the big screen as a ruthless
hitman. Veteran actors like Wong Tin Lam and Tam Ping Man
round up the cast as elders of the triad.
As if the chemistry between the actors is not explosive enough,
viewers will also be treated to a visual cinematic experience.
First rate cinematography by director of photography Cheng
Siu Keung exemplifies the dark personalities of the characters
by daringly playing up the chiaroscuros. The long-time collaborator
of To succeeds in capturing the overwhelming brooding feel
of the film. Add Lo Tayu’s main music theme and new
original score material by Robert Ellis-Geiger to the mix,
and you will get a satisfying viewing experience.
The literal translation of the film’s title is “harmony
is a virtue”. At the end of the day, it will hopefully
have viewers pondering, what price does one have to pay to
maintain peace? And at what expense?
(Another high-rate Johnnie To production trickling with masculinity
that will satisfy the thinking audience)
by John Li