Saturday, April 29, 2006

Election 2

Given local election fever, it's somewhat apt that this movie gets its release during this period. Sort of a tongue-in-cheek tie in with the local political environment. I was filled with a whole lot of skepticism when other local reviewers from the mainstream media started to laud this movie with fantastic ratings. While the original movie had won plenty of awards, the bastardized politically correct version that was shown here, did not do it any honours, and my review highlighted the version's weak ending(s).

However, I was still game to see how this movie panned out, and to my surprise, it met my expectation of a good triad movie. You can actually forget that you've watched the politically correct version, and enjoy this movie as it's meant to be. But for those who have not watched the first movie, fret not, you'll be up to speed within 10 minutes, though you might grapple with certain scenes and characters.

Suffice to know that the Wo Shing Society undergoes leadership changes every 2 years in a democratic manner, and current leader Lok (Simon Yam) will have its term completed soon. However, he becomes, as we learn towards the end of the first movie, power hungry, and demonstrates the character change which was missed in the original bastardized version.

Lok has to select a potential candidate amongst his 5 godsons, and Jimmy (Louis Koo) presented the best option as the one who has the smarts for raking in new business for the Society. However, his interest is only in making money, initially that is, until he's seduced by the fact that with power, the mainland Chinese will give him more respect, and with that, the potential for more business.

The movie becomes similar to the original's scheming and plotting to gain the upper hand, in the run up to the election for the next leader. The focus here is on Jimmy, and his grand scheme to push himself to the forefront of the elections. It's classic "black eats black" plotting for power, title and money.

The much touted violence, can rival some of those that Hollywood churns out. Rarely panning away, the camera captures and at times teases with the blood splatters, spurts and stains, what with equipment like sledge hammers, hammers (somehow the weapon of choice), and, get this, a meat grinder. Many in the audience squirmed, and it's a tad uncomfortable watching the dismemberment of a full human body.

It may seem a little ordinary given the recycled storyline of triad power struggles, but what lifts this movie is the last 15 minutes, where the revelation sets in. You'll see who's actually playing who, and rings home the thought of being careful what you wish for. Squabbling over scraps and neglecting the bigger picture and threat, will always prove to be fatal, as there are always vultures waiting in the wings. It's ironic that for all the election is worth, it degenerates, not within choice, to the installation of a puppet like figure. To the authorities, corrupt or sly, whichever way you look at it, it's always advantageous to have a known evil, rather than an unknown one.

I really recommend this movie, at long last, a decent triad movie with a finale that will really distinguish this amongst others in the genre. One more thing too, I also dig the very powerful theme song with the guitars and drum beats. Really brings out the tension and the mood.

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