Triad Election

"Excellent"

Triad Election Review


As with any decent gangster flick, Johnny To's Triad Election can't give up the ghost of The Godfather. In following the exploits of an up-and-coming boss, more coolly strategic than his predecessors, To has arguably achieved a newfound maturity that has only been hinted at in his hit-and-miss career thus far.

Jimmy Lee (a startling Louis Koo) has just made a business deal with the Mainland China government and is looking to go straight with his model girlfriend, buying a nice house in the swaying greens of the Chinese hills. Taking his name out of Triad contention, he leaves head boss Lok (the staggering Simon Yam) to consider the five main heads under him, none of which seem fit for a crown. Instead of deliberating the least damaging choice, Lok plays the minions against one another in hopes of getting the Triad to elect him again, an act that would break Triad law.

At the same time, Jimmy, finishing his deal with the government, is stripped of his business license in a surprise sting operation headed by Xi (Yao Yung). Jimmy is distraught, but Xi offers him a deal of Shakespearean weight: He will get his license back if he can be elected as the head of the Triad. Suddenly, Jimmy is going to the mattresses with Lok, bidding for backing from the rest of the Triad.

The now-prolific director uses many of his regular players to flesh out the cast, a quality that gives his oeuvre a specific consistency. Here, To gets to play with some of the same notions as Andy Lau's fantastic Infernal Affairs trilogy, but in a more clipped fashion than that behemoth. The link that exists between the original Election and Triad Election has a tenuous consistency compared to other Chinese gangster epics, but on its own, Triad exists as a microcosm of the way things are: It's just business, and business is bloody.

In his upcoming Exiled, To plays around with spaghetti western archetypes and infuses them with kitchen-sink ethos, but in this film, there's an apt sense of restraint in both his tone and his scope. The serious scenes of violence are scant, but their brutality is unquestionable and realized with deft precision. Jimmy's transition has a ruthless bite to it; watching him take a sledgehammer to a man's back with seething bloodlust isn't expected, but it seems like the obvious extension of his all-business demeanor. Jimmy Lee (a very Western name) may simply not care about what his business entails, just as long as he's in charge of it, and that's what the Triad offers him: utter control.

The storytelling specifically speaks to To's maturity and his ability as an action director. In his past films, namely Election and Breaking News, he has hinted at his deeper talents but has not exercised them with this sort of efficiency. When a major character is beaten to death with three hammers slamming into his head, To cuts not to the pain the character is being put through but rather the domestic pain he is leaving in his wake. Like many other directors, To has expertly captured the battle between old-school gangster pathology and the new cutthroat tactics of the corporate criminal. The only difference is that in To's world, there are no heroes to embrace; everyone is guilty.

Aka Hak se wui yi wo wai kwai.



Triad Election

Facts and Figures

Run time: 92 mins

In Theaters: Thursday 27th April 2006

Distributed by: Tartan USA

Production compaines: China Star Entertainment, Milky Way Image Company

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 96%
Fresh: 46 Rotten: 2

IMDB: 7.4 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer: , Dennis Law

Starring: Louis Koo as Jimmy Lee, as Lam Lok, Nick Cheung as Jet, Gordon Lam Ka-Tung as Kun / Lam Ka Tung, Lam Suet as Big Head, Eddie Cheung Siu-Fai as Mr. So, Tian-lin Wang as Uncle Teng Wai, Tam Bing-Man as Uncle Cocky, Mark Cheng as Bo, as Lik, You Yong as Black Ren / Chinese Security Bureau Chief

Also starring:

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