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Election 2 [DVD]
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Thriller set in the heart of Hong Kong's Triad gangland. Jimmy (Louis Koo), is a modern gang member with different ideas from his old masters. He's in line to take over the triad, which is good news for the authorities, who feel they'll finally be able to do business with a Triad leader. Jimmy, however has other plans. He wants to go straight and develop legitimate business interests in mainland China, but he knows he'll have to take control of the triad first if he's to finally achieve his aim. The bodycount is about to rise
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Although there is talk of a longer version existing because of three striking scenes in the film's trailers (including a Chinese execution, the open grave of the first film's last victim and a funeral), these scenes were cut by To prior to release.
The film picks up two years after the first. Lam Lok's (Simon Yam) chairmanship of the "Wo Sing" Triad society is coming to an end. During his time in charge, Jimmy Lee (Louis Koo) - a relatively minor character in the first film - has become a successful businessman, and is planning a large development in China, with a house on the hill, overlooking it.
Problems arise when Lam Lok, tries to break with tradition and remain as chairman at the end of his term.
What follows is a nicely twisty tale, as Lok tries to manipulate (or just murder) other triad members to achieve his own ends, with Lee becoming an initially unwilling participant in the election - forced to do so to maintain his business plans in China - becoming Lok's main challenger.
Koo is super-cool as "Jimmy", smart-dressed, sophisticated, happily-married businessman one minute, ruthless triad member the next - taking a suspected informant to his watery demise or hacking someone to death and feeding their minced remains to dogs, without a blink of an eye, to convince others to see things his way.
I watched this as a "double bill" with the earlier "Election" and it feels like the natural second part of a film (though the ending is clearly open to a third instalment), with a very similar style. The reappearance of the original actors from the first film also helped invest in the various characters. While I thought both films were very good, I probably preferred the first one just a little more, primarily because it felt less predictable (in "2" Jimmy is clearly set up as the good-looking, calm, "anti-hero" quite early on, so I expected him to prevail). But I'm splitting hairs here.
As with the first film, definitely recommended.
Finally, if you enjoy these films I would also recommended the excellent and very stylish "New World" from South Korea, which has a similar "gangster succession" theme.
This Triad drama has enough violence and action to make it entertaining, interesting and more movie like (than the first). Again, it is Wu Sing family election time and there is a battle between the two top candidates. It all seems a repeat with more confidence, but it is an arguably a better, if less poignant, watch than the first but it does benefit from having the scene and situation set before it. An ok watch for hardcore world cinema fans, but nothing amazing or fresh here.
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