Monday, December 06, 2010

"Triad Election" (Language - Cantonese) (2006) - Movie Review

“Triad Election” is merciless in its story telling. The whole tradition of honour, code and respect are bluntly removed and the ground truth of dog eat dog world is shown without any cover up, glossiness or glamour. The main player the movie portrays is Jimmy (Louis Koo) who is well dressed, terse in his speech and quite focussed on his immediate objectives. How crazy he can get those in focussing we learn as the film progresses. Johnnie To’s this film is a sequel to “Election” unseen by me which I am so curious to look forward to reviewing.

In the gangster community it is two years term for a leader. Leader gets the power and the driving factor of that power, money. Lok (Simon Yam) has successfully reigned and it is time for the election. Jimmy is an upcoming businessperson. He worked his way from pirated porn DVD business to real estate contracts. He has all the ambition to go legit and has no desire to run for the election. Then there is Kun (Gordon Lam), who cannot wait to get the throne. So the thing is simple, Kun can get his job and Jimmy can forget about the triad, Lok we do not know his objectives. So Jimmy can begin his aspiration for normal tycoon life. Ofcourse not.

Johnnie To knows that audience are waiting for the turn to get Jimmy into the race. We like Jimmy because he is the only member in this movie who has semblance of having a peaceful family life and hoping for a better tomorrow for his unborn children. Later in the film we would see how he unleashes his darkness and does it with a stale face. That not alone disgusts us but vigorously splashes a bucketful of icy cold water on our face to say that there is no good soul in this trade.

As much as the veterans of this crime business conduct it in the name of tradition, it is a hypocrisy on its supreme nature. When the film begins, a member of the community explains the reason for such a society to have conflict free and peaceful business ambience. It is an organism of itself and when there is power, there is greed and everything that goes with it. The people running for the election are capable of anything because they are all criminals. Another thing is the legitimacy they have created for generations by having such elections.

There are no smart strategy in dealing the problem of outrunning their opponents. It is pure and simple, kill them. Hence comes the bloodbath on both the sides. Jimmy hires a hit man and he does not respect or fear Jimmy. He comes with the clear agenda, you get the service for what you pay for. He can do unspeakable things and witness those but he needs more money. None of these men are not shown to have any kind of pleasure or fun. There are restaurants and clubs wherein women wander around and sing for the entertainment but no one is listening or seeing. This world is ruled by men.

The violence as much as I speak is not shown in gory details but the awareness are of it is nothing short of visceral horror. Why does Jimmy all of a sudden bursts with a motto to get his job done through any way possible? He does not like to be a gangster but he has to in this scenario to fulfill his dream of living in a serene hill and no one around apart from his lovely wife and children they are going to have. He sees this exercise clinically and assumes that somewhere in the close vicinity he can return to his dream.

“Triad Election” is a story of how criminals have no honour or rules. Their motivation beyond money and power is even not shown. We do not see them having fun or even cracking a joke. They are completely serious in every waking moment and somehow that has become their predetermined way of life. The story goes on to the obvious nature of Jimmy being the better player but in the end there is no celebration.

What I liked about Johnnie To’s film is his attraction and aversion towards this world. In a way he loves this genre with a passion for film making but at the same time he is repulsed by the true nature of these people. Hence as much as he goes for the cool shots and disturbing music to elevate the film aesthetically, he makes sure that there are no heroes, no villains or none to be happy for. It is a sad life and it will always be one till the end for all these people.

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