Every two years senior members of Hong Kong’s oldest Triad, The Wo Shing Society, elect a new chairman. Fierce rivalries emerge between the two eligible candidates. Lok, respected by the Uncles is the favorite to win. His rival Big D will stop at nothing to beat him.
Hong Kong genre maestro Johnnie To (The Mission) stretched with richly rewarding ambition to make this gangster saga. Tracking the backroom politics (and bloodletting) of a gang’s leadership transition, it’s a gripping account of the inner workings and codes of honor of the city’s organized crime.
The first two acts of the movie suffer from an overload of incomprehensible gang politics and a myriad of characters that are difficult to keep track of. But by the end this sense of dread and awe seeped in and I was riveted. Plus, the gangsters have names like Uncle Cocky.
To hilariously subverts the gangster genre like never before by making the mob hold elections, then building out the usual violence from this act of civilized behavior to make the dim, brutal scheming that much more absurd and repugnant. To moves so fleetly that I couldn't tell where this stopped being funny, though, and when it started to be abhorrent.
I had a hard time keeping track of all characters at first and in some films that would make it hard to follow but as it went on it became clear and it was the sense of corruption seeping into all the characters that seemed to unify everything. I still have many To films to see but juxtaposition of the noble origins of the triad with the brutal even awkward violence is so far him at his most impressive. Must see.
Creative in its typical inner-gangland warfare plot, and detailed if overburdened in its gangster politics, this is one of master Director Johnnie To's few overrated films, due to its indifferent emotional stakes. Once Election lingers on just a few characters instead of what seems like countless, the film has a lingering and devastating emotional power. If only the whole film had that same wallop.
My first Johnnie To film and I am hooked. One film is enough to see that this is a master craftsman. Really enjoyed this and am looking forward to delving deeper into his filmography. And wow, what an ending...
An amazing film. Many characters yet even the least are fully formed. The twists and turns and newly formed alliances will make your head spin but its worth the discomfort. Sudden graphic violence that stuns in its intensity. The machete street fight is the ballet of violence in its purest form. The ending says everything that needs to be said about Triad life...and death.