ⓘ Election (2005 film)

                                     

ⓘ Election (2005 film)

Election, is a 2005 Hong Kong crime film directed by Johnnie To. Featuring a large ensemble cast, the film stars Simon Yam and Tony Leung Ka-fai as two gang leaders engaged in a power struggle to become the new leader of a Hong Kong triad.

The film premiered as an "Official Selection" at the 2005 Cannes Film Festival, before being released in Hong Kong on 20 October 2005, with a Category III rating. A sequel to the film, Election 2 also known as Triad Election in the United States, concluded the film, and was released in 2006.

                                     

1. Plot

The movie begins as the two-year term expires, and all the elders of the Wo Luen Shing are in the process of electing a new chairman, with some last-minute "campaigning" from both Lok and Big D just a few days prior to the election. Lok is calm, patient and even-tempered, while Big D, who attempts to buy the election, is boisterous, impatient and quick-tempered. After bitter arguments from supporters of both candidates in the likes of Uncle Cocky and Uncle Monk, Lok is elected as the new chairman. However, Big D is dismayed by the result and proceeds to punish two men responsible for his loss by kidnapping them and rolling them down a hill in boxes, prompting ex-chairman Whistle to ask his lieutenant Four-Eye to hide the dragon head baton, which is a symbol of power for the leader.

In an attempt to keep the peace and prevent infighting, the police, headed by Chief Superintendent Hui, arrest the key Triad figures, including Uncle Teng, Big D, Uncle Cocky, Uncle Monk and the newly elected chairman Lok of the Wo Luen Shing. However, during a negotiation attempt in a holding cell, Big D, in a fit of rage, threatens to break with the Triad and form his own society. The culture of the Triad emphasises brotherhood and unity; such a revolt would not be accepted by the Triad, and would lead to heavy violence. Both the heads of the Triad and the police want to avoid turf warfare.

Meanwhile, a pursuit of the baton ensues in which Kun Blackys henchman, who is recovering the baton for Big D catches up with Big Head Tallys henchman, who holds the baton and is recovering it for Lok. During the confrontation, Kun severely beats Big Head with a giant log in order for him to hand out the baton when Kuns boss informs him that the plan has changed and that Kun is to recover the baton for Lok. The leaders are eventually released on bail and after hours of pursuit between Kun, Jimmy, and Jet en route, Lok eventually receives the baton from Jimmy thus making his election official.

Lok proposes a truce, which Big D accepts, on the terms that they will be partners and Big D will be the next chairman when Loks term expires. Initially, this is a successful partnership; together they expand the Triads turf. In contrast to his earlier behaviour, Big D becomes loyal to Lok, whom he now considers a good friend.

In the final scene, Lok and Big D are fishing on a sunny afternoon, accompanied by Loks young son, Denny, and Big Ds wife. While momentarily alone with Lok, Big D proposes that they share the power of chairman; it is not an uncommon practice to have more than one chairman. Lok agrees to support Big D. However, seconds later Lok attacks Big D from behind, using a small boulder to repeatedly smash in his head. Denny and Big Ds wife return in time to see this. Lok orders his son to wait in the car, and proceeds to finish murdering Big D. He then runs after Big Ds wife, attacking her with a shovel and then crushing her throat with a heavy branch. He buries both bodies, washes his hands in the water and goes to the car, where his visibly shaken son is waiting.

                                     

2. Release

Box office

At the end of its box-office run in Hong Kong, Election grossed about HK$15.59 million, which is considered to be quite high for a film that received a Category III rating 18+ restriction in Hong Kong.

Reception

The A.V. Club s Ignatiy Vishnevetsky writes, Thrilling and amusing in equally dark measure, it’s an incisive portrait of a dysfunctional family-style organization struggling to update its sordid operation in an age of unchecked capitalist greed."

Distribution

Election was sold to more than 21 territories, including Optimum Releasing for the United Kingdom, ARP Selection for France and Hopscotch Films for Australia, after screening at the 2005 Cannes Film Festival in competition. Tartan Films has acquired all United States rights to this movie as of May 2006.

                                     

3. Awards and nominations

The movie is notable in being nominated for 14 Golden Horse Awards in Hong Kong cinema. The film was named Best Film of 2005 in the Hong Kong Film Critics Society Awards, with To also clinching Best Director honours for the movie.

                                     
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