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Thursday, October 7, 2010

HAK SE WUI YI WO WAI KWAI / ELECTION 2 / aka TRIAD ELECTION (2006)

How time flies! A year after the first ELECTION movie, Hong Kong helmer Johnnie To jumps two years ahead for the follow up. Alas, everything else here is a couple of steps back. The Triad, a confederation of Hong Kong’s top mobsters, elects a new chief every two years, but the current chairman is trying to break tradition and win a second term. There’s little support for the idea, especially since his main rival is bringing in so much cash from his DVD porn distribution. Now, he wants the prestige of being the Triad’s top man so he can gain access to the lucrative Chinese market. Let the plots, murders & grisly mayhem begin. But this time around, To isn’t able to keep a tight rein on his multiple story lines. There are too many factions to tend to in 90 minutes, and we don’t get enough character development to build rooting interest. (You need a scorecard to know what ‘team’ some of these thugs are on.) Naturally, with To’s technical abilities, there are neatly handled action sequences (a set piece involving the chairman’s son & some school toughs is not only brilliantly executed, To uses it to blindside us from scoping out the film’s climax), plus there's a welcome lack of gangster sentimentality. But To loses narrative focus, and largely misses the deft manner he brought to the earlier pic.

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