BURIED ALIVE: Johnnie To unearths the old gaurd.
Election is no Godfather
, but Johnnie To’s Hong Kong gangster ditypch does rate comparison to Coppola’s epic duo. In Election
, we meet the romanticized old guard; Election
’s oldsters have heads filled with loyalty oaths and arcane traditions. They’re illusions ripe for shattering, and so is the democracy implied by the title.
Flamboyant Big D (Tony Leung Ka-fai) and cool-headed Lok (Simon Yam) vie for the chairmanship of the Wo Shing Society. While corpulent elder Uncle Teng (Wong Tin-lam) dispenses godfatherly wisdom, both camps strong-arm voters. (One gangster, who delivered a Chinese hood’s baby so that the boy would have Hong Kong citizenship, calls in the favor.) There’s a tiresome MacGuffin — the hallowed Dragon Head Baton — but fortunately for the movie’s adrenaline level, Lok’s Cheshire Cat smile hides a ruthless panther.
Jimmy Lee (sleek, charismatic Louis Koo) is first seen at an economics lecture; by the end, he’s one of Lok’s anointed godsons, so it’s clear he’ll be the one to bring the Wo Shing into the 21st century. By the time the election rolls around, Jimmy has made a fortune on pirated pornography. He’s surprised to learn that the mainland Chinese officials who smile on his enterprise would welcome his election as Wo Shing chairman. But who says Lok is ready to give up the baton?