Election (Hei She Hui) & Election 2 (Yi He Wei Gui) (HK)

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Election (Hei She Hui) & Election 2 (Yi He Wei Gui) (HK)

Postby hengcs » Thu Oct 20, 2005 5:00 am

Election (Hei She Hui) (2005)

Director: Johnnie To
Cast: Tony Leung Ka Fai, Simon Yam, Louis Koo

This film premiered at the Venice Film Festival 2005 ...

The film title is "Hei She Hui" (in Mandarin) or "Hak Seh Wui" (in Cantonese), which translates to "Triads".
However, for some "correctness" reason, in China, the title is changed to "Long Cheng Sui Yue", which translates to "The Days/Times in Dragon Town" (or "The Days/Times in Kowloon") ...

With regards to the screen version in Singapore theater, I am not very sure but I think it is the China 85 min version (based on the time I entered and departed from the theater) rather than the Cannes 101 min version. A pity ...

The story basically revolves around the election of a new Chairman for the Triad, either Big D or Lok ... There is much tension and anxiety regarding major chaos before the election ... But even after the election, the expected calm did not follow ... as they all tried to snatch the "Dragon's Head Baton" which symbolized the appointed Chairman ... Would the "traditional" code of conduct, i.e., loyalty and brotherhood, prevail?

Here is my take ...

What is commendable ...

-- In terms of directing,
(i) Despite the lack of fireams, there is substantial violence in very realistic and credible ways. A few scenes are particularly chilly!
(ii) To me, there are a number of well scripted subtleties (for the audience to infer) ... but not everybody will get it, simply dismissing them as just another event or remark, etc ... in other words, the script tries to make it a battle of wit and "human or triad politics" ... but it does not necessarily come across ... hence, I feel it is an ambitious film which might be easily dismissed as a cat and mouse chase of the "baton" ...

-- In terms of casting, it boasts of a very strong ensemble (be they the old or the young, who may not be known to the West). However, not many are utilized to their fullest potential. For example, scenes by Louis Koo were so heavily edited that he seemed to take on a supporting role ... the ending with him also seemed incomplete ... hmmm, is it reserved for Part 2?! ... Nonetheless, Tony Leung Ka Fai managed to rivet the audience with his performance

-- It also hints at some themes,
e.g., what have changed in the past and present about triads
e.g., who is more powerful, the police or the triads
e.g., what is more important, power or honor
etc etc etc

What is problematic ...
-- My main qualm about the film is
(i) its pacing
(ii) and its story telling

Let me explain ...

If I recall correctly, "rumor" has it that more than 3 to 4 hrs of negatives are filmed, but for screening sake, the director had reduced it to a 1 hr odd film ... some even suggested that it was edited to have a Part 1 and Part 2 ...

If only the *story telling* could be much better ... why?

(i) It does not have sufficient "characterization" or "background story" to let the audience root for either Big D or Lok ... Hence, as of now, the 1st half an hour was kind of slow and tedious, merely watching how the "old" leaders argue about who to vote ... UNLESS the audience is rooting for a particular candidate to win ... instead, the audience is likely to watch from an outsiders' perspective and be indifferent towards either ...

(ii) I wonder if the original 3 to 4 hrs of negatives could be re-edited to have a much tighter *pacing* and "gripping" story telling ... (i.e., if Part 1 and the supposed Part 2 are condensed into 1 film)

(iii) Initially, there are too many characters (heads and subordinates), such that when the baton fell into different people's hand ... it was slightly difficult to track (at least at first viewing) whose subordinates' hands the baton had landed in ...

(iv) Louis Koo's scenes were so heavily edited that he felt more like a supporting rather than the main role. I also feel that the "hints" of a "next" generation story and the film's ending with Louis Koo somehow seemed "incomplete"
(oh no ... will there really be a Part 2?!)

** There are also "sources" which noted that the ending is different for the China and Cannes versions ... in terms of Louis Koo's status and what Simon Yam did at the end ...


According to some sources (reliable?!),

(i) Louis Koo is not an undercover in the HK version, but he is made to be a good guy (by being an undercover for the police) in the China version ... Anyway, the scene is pretty abrupt ...

(2) Apparently, Simon Yam also killed Tony's wife rather cruelly at the end (after she witnessed the stoning of Tony by Simon). This scene seemed to be edited out. In the China version, she was only seen running away after witnessing the incident, without Simon giving chase.


In my very humble opinion, I just feel that it has a lot of potential to be witty, subtle and intriguing, but it just fails to grip in terms of *pacing* and *story telling* ...

Nonetheless, I would rather you watch it and tell me how much you like it,
-- in terms of its artistic/filming merits
-- in terms of its entertainment value/mass appeal ...

Re: Election (Hei She Hui) & Election 2 (Yi He Wei Gui) (HK)

Postby hengcs » Thu Oct 20, 2005 5:49 am

Here is what I have posted for the Cannes Film Festival (in the old board)

Director: Johnnie To
-- Election (English title)
-- Hei She Hui (Chinese title) (loosely translated to "Gangs/Triads" )

The movie poster ...

The words in the poster read:
-- Three hundred years ago, they were known as "chivalry" (or "loyalists")

** The exact Chinese translation for "chivalry" has a slightly different essence/nuance ... Many would like to believe that in the past, "gangs" are formed to help one another and are known to be loyal. They may have more principles too ... As for nowadays ... things have changed ...

Synopsis of the movie:
-- It narrates the events that occur during the election for the new head of a gang. Although fictitious, it seems to reminisce about the rise and fall of gangs/triads in Hong Kong in the early days.

The cast:
-- Louis Koo
-- Tony Leung Ka Fai
-- Simon Yam
-- Nick Cheung
-- Andy On

Gallery of the cast

** This is actually a 4 hour movie. So, I am not sure if the Cannes release is Part I of the movie and Part II is pending another release ... or is this simply an edited version of the full movie. I think it is the Part I.

Regardless of any award, I will watch the movie when it is released ...

Re: Election (Hei She Hui) & Election 2 (Yi He Wei Gui) (HK)

Postby A » Fri Nov 04, 2005 6:40 am

Nice to see director Jonnie To taking on an epical film. I can't wait to see the two parts together. Hopefully they will come into german cinemas.

Re: Election (Hei She Hui) & Election 2 (Yi He Wei Gui) (HK)

Postby hengcs » Wed Apr 05, 2006 1:43 am

The opening film for HKIFF 2006

The Chinese words read ... "yi he wei gui" ...
loosely translated to ... that peace is most invaluable ...

I have watched it ... and will write the review soon ...

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