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  Election 2 The Candidate
Year: 2006
Director: Johnnie To
Stars: Louis Koo, Simon Yam, Nick Cheung, Lam Ka Tung, Lam Suet, Cheung Siu Fai, Wong Tin Lam, Mark Cheng, Tam Ping Man, Pauline Pan, Andy On, Yao Yung, Brenda Chan, Chan Siu Kai, Chan Siu Pang
Genre: Drama, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: Jimmy Lee (Louis Koo) is a Hong Kong businessman securing his latest deal for a new highway to the city, but the way he built up his company to the success it is was not through above board methods as he was involved with the Triads. In fact, Jimmy made his fortune with pirated porn DVDs he sold on to the Chinese mainland, although details such as that are something he'd prefer to forget, as from now on he wishes his deals to be strictly on the level. Trouble is, there's a new election coming up in the Triad society, and current boss Lok (Simon Yam) sees him as a threat...

Not that Jimmy wishes to become head of the criminal organisation, but circumstances may dictate otherwise in this, another tale of gangster intrigue from writer and director Johnnie To. This was a sequel to his film of a year before, Election, and there were those who found that effort too confusing and preferred the more straightforward follow-up on offer here, although from those arriving fresh to the story they might have wondered that even though the second film had the better reputation if they needed to watch the first to get up to speed on what was going on here.

The answer to that was that it helped in filling in the backstory to see the initial instalment, but was not essential, though taken together they did offer a richer experience. Jimmy Lee had been a supporting character in Election, but this time he took centre stage as he is drawn into a rivalry with Lok for the job of head honcho which he really does not wish to be part of. He wants to forge ahead with his business deals, but finds that in China there is nobody willing to take him on unless he actually wins the leadership race, so extremely reluctantly he goes ahead with that, reasoning he will only be in the top position for a couple of years, and after that he can attend to his own company.

As with the original, and Lok's apparent sheen of respectability, Jimmy is not quite the sophisticate he wishes to present himself as, and with the contest hotting up, violence looms: pretty much the same themes as before, then, and if there was a flaw it was that Election 2 did have a more of the same mood if you had seen the first one. On the other hand, if you had enjoyed that movie then you'd be only too pleased to see more in this vein, and To delivered a slow-burning but no less gripping work, with the political aspects given more space than before, not that the Chinese censors were too pleased about that as you can imagine, although this was released uncut elsewhere.

Once again there is one scene of brutality which puts the characters' drive for respectability into perspective: these are not polite, well presented businessmen, they are savage beasts trying to run Hong Kong with an iron fist and if you cross them they will do their best to crush you. In the original that scene occurred at the end, revealing Lok's true colours, but here the most powerful sequence sees Jimmy resorting to smashing a rival with a sledgehammer, chopping up his body, grinding it into mince and feeding it to some fierce dogs as a way of making it plain he is not to be messed with. That baton makes a reappearance, yet even that has lost its significance as all those years of supposedly noble tradition mean very little when the main players are willing to descend to the depths they do. The final twist is either fitting or worrying, depending on how you feel about Jimmy, but you cannot say he didn't bring it upon himself. Music by Robert Ellis-Geiger.

Aka: Hak se wui yi wo wai kwai
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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