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Election [Import]

Louis Koo , Suet Lam , Johnnie To    Unrated   DVD
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 21.92 & FREE Shipping on orders over CDN$ 25. Details
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Election [Import] + Election 2
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Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Evolutionary Psychology - An Illustration Aug. 1 2008
Format:DVD
Evolutionary psychology proposes that people have two main strategies for getting along in the world. The first is to seek dominance. Either you are the strongest and become dominant or you are weaker and submit while dreaming of dominance once you become strongest. The second is altruism. You cooperate with others and through others' support, you become first among equals. Seeking dominance and altruism are both strategies that are universal to humans-as-a-species.

Persons who seek dominace try to trick altruists into cooperating with false promises of reciprocity. Through evolution, dominance seekers develop adaptations that facilitate the tricking of altruists. Altruists evolve adaptations that allow them to see through dominance seekers pretending to be altruists.

Election illustrates all these evolved behavioral strategies. Of the two candidates for election, one appears to seek dominance at any cost. The other appears more altruistic. When the altruist gets the upper hand, the dominance seeker acquisces and begins to style himself as more altruistic and willing to cooperate. Is he sincere? The movie reveals the answer in the end.

This is a fine movie though dark and mixed with violence. Most of the violence is not extreme by today's standards. There is one (or two) shocking scene and a sensitive person might find it disturbing. Cover your eyes if you are s/he. The rest of the movie is well worth seeing in its revelation about human nature. Its the best Hong Kong movie I've seen that did not have Li Gong in it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars How far are they willing to go? May 6 2007
By M. B. Alcat TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:DVD
"Election" directed by Johnnie To, is an engaging action thriller that manages to entertain the spectator, but that might scare some people due to numerous scenes of violence.

The two main characters are Lok (Simon Yam) and Big D (Tony Leung), the two main candidates to become the new chairman of one of Hong Kong's most importants triads, the Wo Shing Society. The senior members of the The Wo Shing Society have the power to choose the next president, and will do so in a triad-run election. But how far is each of these candidates willing to go in order to have absolute power? And where do tradition, loyalty and duty stand in modern times?

These questions, and some more, will be answered if you give "Election" a chance. This is the first movie I watch by this Hong Kong director, and I liked it well enough to know I will try to find out more about his work. From my point of view, this film is not perfect (3.5 stars out of 5), but it original, and well-worth seeing, if you can stand the sometimes shocking violence. If that is the case, recommended...

Belen Alcat
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.1 out of 5 stars  17 reviews
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars First in the series from the modern master of Hong Kong cinema. Dec 13 2007
By MutantChaos - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
Election is the first film in this gangster series (Triad Election is the sequel) from the greatest filmmaker currently working in Hong Kong, Johnnie To. If you aren't familiar with Mr. To's work, imagine John Woo with less action (at least in this film - watch Exiled, another top notch film, for more action oriented To fare) but a much better handle on story and storytelling than Woo ever had. This is less action/thrills oriented than Infernal Affairs (which it is sometimes compared to), but I think Election is a much better film.

The simple synopsis - two mob bosses, one all business and one all bluster, compete for leadership of their gang. When the election doesn't go the way some want, all hell breaks loose, threatening the stability of the already teetering Hong Kong underworld.

Tony Leung Ka Fai won the acting award for his Nicholson-esqe over-the-top performance as the loud mouth, obnoxious mob boss, but it is Simon Yam that really shines in his role - the transformation of his character over the course of this film is a 2-hour acting lesson that totally blew me away.

The U.S. DVD has all the special features that were on the Hong Kong 2-Disc Special Edition, but at a nicer price, and the transfer is excellent. I can't recommend this film enough, and the Tartan DVD is the way to go.

Attention Canadians - the Canadian release (not from Tartan) is bare-bones, this is the one to get if you are interested in special features!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A good crime drama well worth watching if only to set up the superb sequel Oct. 21 2006
By Trevor Willsmer - Published on Amazon.com
Despite a tight narrative, Johnnie To's Election feels at times like it was once a longer picture, with many characters and plot strands abandoned or ultimately unresolved. Some of these are dealt with in the truly excellent and far superior sequel, Election 2: Harmony is a Virtue, but it's still a dependably enthralling thriller about a contested Triad election that bypasses the usual shootouts and explosions (though not the violence) in favor of constantly shifting alliances that can turn in the time it takes to make a phone call. It's also a film where the most ruthless character isn't always the most threatening one, as the chilling ending makes only too clear: one can imagine a lifetime of psychological counselling being necessary for all the trauma that one inflicts on one unfortunate bystander.

Extras on the 2-disc set aren't over-plentiful, but the interviews with Johnnie To, Simon Yam (always at his best under To's direction, and possibly never better here), Wang Tianlin and Tony Leung Ka Fei are more in-depth and thoughtful than usual. Also included are a brief featurette (like the interviews subtitled in English), stills galleries, 2 unsubtitled TV spots, 2 unsubtitled theatrical trailers, and booklet.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Behaviors occurring behind the scenes in the modern world Oct. 8 2007
By Pork Chop - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
ELECTION (Hak Se Wui, 1995) starring Simon Yam (reprising his role as
a triad godfather as seen in CASINO 1997 by Billy Tang, for ex§) is a
movie intended for fans of this genre, underlying the testosterone,
discipline and ancient traditions aspects of masculinity.

Either the script's writer had a bad nightmare on which this movie
was constructed, or the writer simply decided to show a very limited,
narrow range of what comprises humanity, and understanding the latter
either poorly, or not heving been exposed to very much of it, in
reality.

The aforementioned aspects seems to eat away at the classy aspects
that a picture craves, this film suffering also from the homicidal
behavior that the movie shows at the 90 min mark.

The strong point of this picture, is a story centering on the
election of a triad successor, which the audience will recognize as
similar to modern politics. Any strategy is good, to get to the top
...payoffs to electors preparing to cast their votes to win their
favor, maneuvering, violence, kidnappings, brutality, financial
enticements all the while, with a law enforcement presence that
delays, complicates and hinders the entire underground electoral
process.

Key street-level bosses are called in a meeting, to vote for one
candidate or another, raising their hand to signal their approval.
Interestingly, the defeated candidates don't abandon victory so soon
or easily, fully conscious that it's fully possible to gain the upper
hand and coerce opponents with some effort and skill, from their
genetic make-ups as triad leaders having climbed to the top, to the
point of being candidates for the top dog position.

The film is no-nonsense, preferring to show only professional
dealings vs. a wide spectrum of emotions, such as humor, sex,
drinking, amusement or other lighter sides of things, which is
unrealistic, in terms of accepting the proposition overall in terms
of both private and public lives that make up these trial people.

An aspect underlined is loyalty, an oath taken by soldiers in the
triad, to the point that, a member is made to break his porcelain
spoon, crack it and eat it on the orders of his boss, without
questioning, much as military soldiers are trained to do, in a
pavlovian reaction. Other instances show the ruthlessness and
willingness to die openly admitted by members, in favor of their
gang, their minds stamped with the triad's codified rules of conduct,
as a brotherhood, with and loyalty standing above everything else.

Cash generating activities are referenced, such as drugs, gambling,
black market reselling of tainted chickens and commodities, etc.

The filming is very good, with a pleasing high-quality widescreen,
showing Hong Kong, mostly in closed meetings, versus open air,
outdoor locations, from which the movie somewhat suffers, coupled
with a decision to create suspense and tension over 1 hour over the
pursuit of a dragon baton symbol.

A sarcastic criticism of the law, is made, when a top law officer is
presented, and openly admits having reached the top of the echelon by
having agreed early in his career to infiltrate a gang, betray their
trust, later busting them with incriminating evidence, suggesting
dishonorable conduct among that law officers, and that they, the
triad members, are the true honorable men, self-righteous as they
are.

The difficulty in controlling 50,000 to 300,000 men, all belonging to
underground triad organizations is understood by these, which limits
the range of crackdowns they can carry out.

A clear decision was made to limit action scenes in the movie, and to
limit the presence of guns and bullets almost entirely, which eats
away at the entertainment aspects of the movie, too.

Overall, in addition to the above aspects, ELECTION will interest
those viewers who tend to believe there is more than what meets in
the eye, in terms of cash flows, businesses, commerce, and political
icons in the modern world.

There are behaviors occurring behind the scenes, secret
organizations, not unlike Freemasonry for example. Also those who are
at the top, much like the boss in any corporation, only with much
difficulty will relinquish his position. More likely, they are
ever-vigilant of any new competitor arriving to whom the godfather
position in the triad, consciously, or unconsciously, appeals to
them, and will take them out if needed, promptly.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Brutal Battle For Political Supremacy: The First Installment Of A Two Piece Masterwork Jan. 12 2011
By K. Harris - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Having recently become acquainted with Hong Kong filmmaker Johnnie To with the his latest effort "Vengeance" (an unusual and intriguing genre picture), I've been seeking out his earlier pieces. After being delighted by the thoroughly unique "Mad Detective," I stumbled across a pair of movies that, to me, epitomize grand and sophisticated storytelling. I consider myself, at least, conversant in Asian cinema and its masters--but To seems to have flown completely under my radar. But no more! With 2005's "Election" and its sequel 2006's "Triad Election," To has captivated me with two terrifically complex thrillers that stand in worthy comparison to "The Godfather" and "The Godfather, Part 2." Okay, I know that comparing the "Election" films to two cinema masterpieces may seem like unnecessary hyperbole--but, in truth, I was so impressed that I have share that passion. And the character arcs are quite similar. Much as I consider the two "Godfather" films as one experience (I'll leave Part 3 out of the discussion), I have to lump "Election" and "Triad Election" together for the purposes of this review. Either film can be appreciated on its own merits--but together, they are a truly special experience (I literally watched them back to back).

"Election" revolves around the passing of the power baton within one of Hong Kong's largest crime syndicates. With two principle candidates in the running for the looming election, there seems a clear division about the future of the Triad. There's the old-school man of action, Big D (Tony Leung Ka Fei), and the more contemplative choice, Lam Lok (Simon Yam). Each has his supporters and each has a different vision for the future of the organization. When one wins the election, the other refuses to relinquish his claim and this political battle takes to the street. But this isn't a mindless shoot-em-up, this is a grim dance for power. The action sequences are well done, but "Election" is a mental challenge as well as a visceral one. I loved the final conflict resolution and the last minute betrayal is pure magic. The two leads, mentioned above, are extraordinary--but Yam's evolution into a power player is surely one of the most chilling things I've seen in a while.

"Triad Election" takes place a couple of years later when guess what? That's right, it's election time again! But the victor of "Election," (and I won't name him) despite custom, might not want to be unseated. Louis Koo as Jimmy Lee takes center stage in what is also referred to as "Election 2." Jimmy Lee was a supporting player in the first film, a reluctant henchman who wanted to legitimize his life. Set up in a successful business venture, Jimmy Lee (much like Michael Corleone) can't extricate himself from the Triad life. Put forth as a candidate for the new boss, he has no interest. But it's not easy to defy expectations and the future he wants seems dependent on him ascending to the throne. With a detached intelligence, he's able to see where the true danger lurks. And as the current boss manipulates others to take Jimmy down, it's not going to be an easy task. Koo is absolutely fantastic here and the power of the "Election" films is to see men who are trapped, despite all instincts, into an inescapable violence.

There is brutality, even graphic bloodshed, within these two films. But it serves a greater purpose and fits, however surprisingly, into the machinations of the principle characters. More politically and strategically savvy than comparable genre pictures, the "Election" films are largely distinguished by smart and believable scripts. Yam in "Election" and Koo in "Triad Election" give startling performances. They evolve and transform before your eyes and if you don't think Koo is the Hong Kong equivalent of Pacino in "The Godfather," I don't know what to say. Each film certainly stands alone (and individually I might rate them at 4 and 4 1/2 stars respectively), but together they are epic. Watching them together helped to showcase the undeniable brilliance of Johnnie To, my new favorite. KGHarris, 1/11.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The consequences of power - potent storytelling from a Hong Kong film master Aug. 5 2009
By Nathan Andersen - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
The Wo Shing triad is the oldest and most powerful gang in Hong Kong; they are also unique in their time-honored tradition of holding democratic elections among the various leaders for the big boss or chairman of the triad.This time around, succession will not happen without a fight. The two leading candidates have very different approaches to leadership, and neither can effectively lead while the other retains his strength. While "Big D" craves power for its own sake, "Lok" is a shrewd businessman and devoted father who sees crime as a means to an end and values stability, peace and tradition. When it comes time for a new leader, and "Big D" refuses to accept defeat, it looks like civil war within the triad is imminent.

Hong Kong director Johnnie To can do violence. While I tend to prefer the stylistic flourishes of another major Hong Kong director, Wong Kar-Wai, there's no denying that Johnnie To's approach has a broader appeal, but doesn't dumb things down in the Hollywood blockbuster style. What is remarkable in this film is the restraint and the emphasis on the difficult choices that a leader, even a criminal leader, must make. There is no gun play, which is not to say that there is no brutal violence, but much of the action involves conversation. In the world depicted here it's not brutality but intelligence that prevail - though part of what the film shows is that a leader in this world has to be prepared to get his hands dirty. Since it is about the succession of power and the meaning of honor among organized criminals, "Election" deserves to be compared to Coppola's The Godfather (though a more apt comparison may be with GoodFellas). While they are very different films, both in tone and context and cultural background, they are both very effective in conveying the weight of tradition as it comes into conflict with greed and ambition. Both also focus on the moral impact on a leader of the means necessary to consolidate power. Finally, both are shot in a distinctive and effective style, and put the importance on character over chaotic action, but don't shy from conveying the brutality of mob violence. When violence does erupt in this film, it's not stylized and it's not pretty. Unlike a good deal of Hong Kong film, the criminals are not glamorized here, though neither is the law. It all comes to a devastating and powerful climax (about which I'll say nothing to avoid spoilers), where it is the subtle touches (the frightened monkeys, for example, and the son's looks) that add weight and poignancy together a violent episode.

Highly recommended for lovers of inventive Asian cinema and for its fresh take on the gangster film.
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