When an ambulatory TV news unit live broadcasts the embarrassing defeat of a police battalion by five bank robbers in a ballistic showdown, the credibility of the police force drops to a ... See full summary »
Police inspector and excellent hostage negotiator Ho Sheung-Sang finds himself in over his head when he is pulled into a 72 hour game by a cancer suffering criminal out for vengeance on Hong Kong's organized crime Syndicates.
A corrupt cop named Sam handles negotiations between two Triad leaders who plan to join forces. However, he meets a suspicious bald man named Tony, who keeps following him around and disrupting his personal business.
Ching Wan Lau,
Tony Chiu-Wai Leung,
A French chef swears revenge after a violent attack on his daughter's family in Macau, during which her husband and her two children are murdered. To help him find the killers, he hires three local hit-men working for the mafia.
Anthony Chau-Sang Wong,
Three people - a criminal, a bank officer and a cop - end up in a catastrophic situation in the midst of a global economical crisis and are forced to betray any morals and principles to solve their financial problems.
You certainly don't need a re-count to know whether or not to give this film a go.
There can be no denying that Hak Se Wui (Election in English) is a well made and well thought out film. The film uses numerous clever pieces of identification all the time playing with modernity yet sticking to tradition a theme played with throughout the film Where John Woo's Hong Kong films are action packed and over the top in their explosive content as seen in Hard Boiled (1992) and when Hong Kong films do settle down into rhythms of telling the story from the 'bad' point of view, they can sometimes stutter and just become merely unmemorable, a good example being City on Fire (1987).
Election is a film that is memorable for the sheer fact of its unpredictable scenes, spontaneous action and violence that are done in a realistic and tasteful (if that's the right word) manner as well as the clever little 'in pieces' of film-making. It's difficult to spot during the viewing but Election is really constructed in a kind of three act structure: there is the first point of concern involving the actual election and whoever is voted in is voted in not everyone likes the decision but what the Uncles say, goes. The second act is the retrieving of the ancient baton from China that tradition demands must be present during the inauguration with the final third the aftermath of the inauguration and certain characters coming up with their own ideas on how the Triads should and could be run. Needless to say; certain events and twists occur during each of the three thirds, some are small and immaterial whereas some are much larger and spectacular.
Election does have some faults with the majority coming in the opening third. Trying to kill off time surrounding an election that only takes a few minutes to complete was clearly a hard task for the writers and filmmakers and that shows at numerous points. I got the feeling that a certain scene was just starting to go somewhere before it was interrupted by the police and then everyone gets arrested. This happens a few times: a fight breaks out in a restaurant but the police are there and everyone is arrested; there's a secret meeting about the baton between the Triads but the police show up and everyone gets arrested; some other Triads are having a pre-election talk but the police show up and guess what? You know.
Once the film gets out of that rut that I thought it would, it uses a sacred baton as a plot device to get everybody moving. The baton spawns some good fight scenes such as the chasing of a truck after it's been hotwired, another chase involving a motorbike and a kung-fu fight with a load of melee weapons in a street the scenes are unpredictable, realistic and violent but like I said, they are in a 'tasteful' manner. Where Election really soars is its attention to that fine detail. When the Triads are in jail, the bars are covered with wire suggesting they're all animals in cages as that's how they behave on the outside when in conflict. Another fine piece of attention to detail is the way the Uncles toast using tea and not alcohol, elevating themselves above other head gangsters who'd use champagne (The Long Good Friday) and also referencing Chinese tradition of drinking tea to celebrate or commemorate.
Election is a good film that is structured well enough to enjoy and a film that has fantastic mise-en-scene as you look at what's going on. Some of the indoor settings and the clothing as well as the buckets of style that is poured on as the search and chase for the baton intensifies. The inauguration is like another short film entirely and very well integrated into the film; hinting at Chinese tradition in the process. I feel the best scene is the ending scene as it sums it up perfectly: two shifty characters fishing and debating the ruling of the Triads all the while remaining realistic, unpredictable and violent: in a tasteful manner, of course.
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