Election (2005)
Reviewed by: Gaijin84 on 2012-09-11
Summary: Top shelf Triad drama...
Johnnie To’s winning “Election” opens with the inevitable bribes that come before the vote for the new head of the Wo Sing Triads. Lam Lok (Simon Yam) and Big D (Tony Leung Ka-Fai) are vying for the position, and as the final ballot is cast, Lam Lok appears to be the victor. This sets the already violent and unpredictable Big D into a rage, causing him to start to take vengeance against those heads that opposed him and to steal the symbolic baton that the leader is entrusted to hold until his term is over. The hunt for the baton take members from the two rival factions to mainland China, where it changes hands multiple times depending on which deals are being cut back in Hong Kong. It’s a frenetic race to get it into the hands of the desired triad head and when things don’t work out in Big D’s favor, he decides to split his group off from Wo Sing, causing a major headache for all involved.

Yam and Ka-Fai are two acting heavyweights in Hong Kong, and they don’t disappoint in Election. They are polar opposites in terms of their personalities; Yam is quiet and stoic, preferring to deal with issues through negotiation and gentle persuasion (until pushed to the limit), while Big D (Ka-Fai) takes a more direct approach that usually involves copious amounts of violence. There is a fantastically tense scene in which Yam and Ka-Fai wait at a stoplight with a proposal from Yam hanging in the balance. Ka-Fai has done such a good job of making Big D an unpredictable character that I had no idea what path he would choose. Moments like that are rare in films these days. The only weak point is the confusion that comes from the race for the baton in Mainland China. It’s very difficult to remember who is working for whom and where character’s loyalties lie. If done intentionally by To, it’s very effective. If not, it detracts a bit from the overall plot. Tough to beat in the Triad film realm though, highly recommended.
Reviewer Score: 9