Hong Kong gangster flick brims with style

  • By Robert Horton, Herald Movie Critic
  • Thursday, June 14, 2007 2:58pm
  • LifeGo-See-Do

Like so many of this summer’s movies, “Triad Election” is a sequel. But a couple of things distinguish it from the run of pirates, ogres and other big-budget blockbusters.

For one thing, it’s in another language. For another, it doesn’t require that you watch the previous film(s) on DVD the night before you see the new movie just so you can keep the plot straight.

I can verify this, because I haven’t seen “Election,” the Hong Kong film that preceded it. But “Triad Election” is still a stylish, involving gangster picture.

Some of the characters are the same, but the plot can stand on its own. “Triad Election” revolves around a sleek, successful young mob operator named Jimmy (Louis Koo). He’s made his name and a nice pile of money.

In fact, he’d be a good candidate for the next mob chairman election (a Godfather-type position that comes open every two years). Problem is, Jimmy plans to go legit. He wants out of crime, wants a settled life with a wife and family, and already knows where his house will be.

Of course, it won’t be that easy. Not only do his mob cronies want him to campaign for chairman, but so do the Chinese police. In clandestine meetings, they strongly suggest the advantages they could have from installing a smart guy as chairman.

So, like Al Pacino in other circumstances, they just keep pullin’ Jimmy back in. This is not a novel plot, but director Johnnie To, a prolific veteran of the Hong Kong film scene, gives it an intelligent treatment.

Johnnie To has a great strategy for the movie: First it comes on as a sleek exercise in style, and then To uses a couple of amazing set-pieces to drive home the ugliness of this world. One is a suspenseful ambush that involves gangsters fanning out in the streets, machetes in hand; the other finds an unfortunate flunky on a collision course with a meat grinder. This is not a metaphor – it’s a real meat grinder.

“Triad Election” features a nifty cast, including Simon Yam as the current chairman, who’s showing a marked reluctance to surrender his position. Louis Koo is made up like George Chakiris in “West Side Story,” and he carries off the lead role with the right amount of gravity and cool.

Gangster movies translate across languages and cultures, and “Triad Election” is no exception. It’s just the thing for “Sopranos” fans experiencing withdrawal symptoms.

Louis Koo stars in “Triad Election.”

Talk to us

More in Life

Kotor's zigzagging town wall rewards climbers with a spectacular view. (Cameron Hewitt / Rick Steves' Europe)
Rick Steves: Just south of Dubrovnik lies unpolished Montenegro

One of Europe’s youngest nations offers dramatic scenery, locals eager to show off their unique land, and a refreshing rough-around-the-edges appeal.

Dark gray wheels and black exterior accents provide extra visual appeal for the 2024 Subaru Impreza’s RS trim. (Subaru)
2024 Subaru Impreza loses a little, gains a lot

The brand’s compact car is fully redesigned. A couple of things are gone, but many more have arrived.

TSR image for calendar
Music, theater and more: What’s happening in Snohomish County

This weekend in Snohomish: The Snohomish Blues Invasion and the Snohomish Studio Tour 2023.

Made by Bruce Hutchison, the poster for “A Momentary Diversion on the Road to the Grave” is an homage to 1985 classic “The Goonies.” (Photo provided)
Indie film premiering on Whidbey Island

Filmed almost entirely on Whidbey Island, “A Momentary Diversion on the Road to the Grave” is set to premiere in Langley.

TSR image only
Does your elementary school child have ADHD?

It’s important to identify children with this condition so we can help them succeed in school.

This photo provided by OceanGate Expeditions shows a submersible vessel named Titan used to visit the wreckage site of the Titanic. In a race against the clock on the high seas, an expanding international armada of ships and airplanes searched Tuesday, June 20, 2023, for the submersible that vanished in the North Atlantic while taking five people down to the wreck of the Titanic. (OceanGate Expeditions via AP)
A new movie based on OceanGate’s Titan submersible tragedy is in the works: ‘Salvaged’

MindRiot announced the film, a fictional project titled “Salvaged,” on Friday.

A clump of flowering ornamental grass or pennisetum alopecuroides in an autumn garden.
My garden runneth over with fountain grasses, and for good reason

These late-blooming perennials come in many varieties. They work well as accents, groundcovers, edgings or in containers.

This Vacasa rental is disgusting. Can I get my money back?

The vacation rental Carol Wilson books for her group through Vacasa is infested with rats and insects. Vacasa offers to refund one night, but can they get all of their money back?

A woman diverts from her walk on Colby Avenue to take a closer look at a pickup truck that was partly crushed by a fallen tree during an overnight wind storm Saturday, Nov. 5, 2022, in north Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / Herald file)
Storm season is coming. Here’s how to prepare for power outages.

The most important action you can take is to make an emergency preparedness kit.

Do you prefer green or red grapes? This antique Moser pitcher is decorated with enameled grapevines on shaded red-to-green glass.
Grapevine pitcher was made by renowned Bohemian company

Also, queries about grandmother’s coffee set and late husband’s Beatles records and memorabilia collection.

The city of Mukilteo is having a naming contest for its new $75,000 RC Mowers R-52, a remote-operated robotic mower. (Submitted photo)
Mukilteo muncher: Name the $75,000 robot mower

The city is having a naming contest for its new sod-slaying, hedge-hogging, forest-clumping, Mr-mow-it-all.

Death of parent with child. Piece of paper with parents and children is torn in half.
Helping children cope with the hard realities of divorce

I’s important to set aside one’s feelings and find a way to make this challenging transition as comfortable for children as you can.