Election (2005 film)

Traditional 黑社會
Simplified 黑社会
Mandarin Hēi Shè Huì
Cantonese Hak1 Se5 Wui2
Directed by Johnnie To
Produced by Dennis Law
Johnnie To
Written by Yau Nai-hoi
Yip Tin-shing
Starring Simon Yam
Tony Leung Ka-fai
Louis Koo
Nick Cheung
Music by Lo Ta-yu
Cinematography Cheng Siu-Keung
Edited by Patrick Tam
Distributed by China Star Entertainment Group
Release dates
  • 20 October 2005 (2005-10-20)
Running time
101 minutes
Country Hong Kong
Language Cantonese
Box office US$2,191,782[1]

Election (Chinese: 黑社會; literal title: Black Society, a common Cantonese reference to the triads), is a 2005 Hong Kong crime film directed by Johnnie To. Featuring a large ensemble cast, the film stars Simon Yam and Tony Leung Ka-fai as two gang leaders engaged in a power struggle to become the new leader of a Hong Kong triad.

The film premiered as an "Official Selection" at the 2005 Cannes Film Festival,[2] before being released in Hong Kong on 20 October 2005, with a Category III rating. A sequel to the film, Election 2 (also known as Triad Election in the United States), concluded the film, and was released in 2006.


The movie begins as the two-year term expires, and all the elders of the Wo Luen Shing are in the process of electing a new chairman, with some last-minute "campaigning" from both Lok and Big D just a few days prior to the election. Lok is calm, patient and even-tempered, while Big D, who attempts to buy the election, is boisterous, impatient and quick-tempered. After bitter arguments from supporters of both candidates in the likes of Uncle Cocky and Uncle Monk, Lok is elected as the new chairman. However, Big D is dismayed by the result and proceeds to punish two men responsible for his loss by kidnapping them and rolling them down a hill in boxes, prompting ex-chairman Whistle to ask his lieutenant Four-Eye to hide the dragon head baton, which is a symbol of power for the leader.

In an attempt to keep the peace and prevent infighting, the police, headed by Chief Superintendent Hui, arrest the key Triad figures, including Uncle Teng, Big D, Uncle Cocky, Uncle Monk and the newly elected chairman Lok of the Wo Luen Shing. However, during a negotiation attempt in a holding cell, Big D, in a fit of rage, threatens to break with the Triad and form his own society. The culture of the Triad emphasises brotherhood and unity; such a revolt would not be accepted by the Triad, and would lead to heavy violence. Both the heads of the Triad and the police want to avoid turf warfare.

Meanwhile, a pursuit of the baton ensues in which Kun (Blacky's henchman), who is recovering the baton for Big D catches up with Big Head (Tally's henchman), who holds the baton and is recovering it for Lok. During the confrontation, Kun severely beats Big Head with a giant log in order for him to hand out the baton when Kun's boss informs him that the plan has changed and that Kun is to recover the baton for Lok. The leaders are eventually released on bail and after hours of pursuit between Kun, Jimmy, and Jet on route, Lok eventually receives the baton from Jimmy thus making his election official.

Lok proposes a truce, which Big D accepts, on the terms that they will be partners and Big D will be the next chairman when Lok's term expires. Initially, this is a successful partnership; together they expand the Triad's turf. In contrast to his earlier behaviour, Big D becomes loyal to Lok, whom he now considers a good friend.

In the final scene, Lok and Big D are fishing on a sunny afternoon, accompanied by Lok's young son, Denny, and Big D's wife. While momentarily alone with Lok, Big D proposes that they share the power of chairman; it is not an uncommon practice to have more than one chairman. Lok agrees to support Big D. However, seconds later Lok attacks Big D from behind, using a small boulder to repeatedly smash in his head. Denny and Big D's wife return in time to see this. Lok orders his son to wait in the car, and proceeds to finish murdering Big D. He then runs after Big D's wife, attacking her with a shovel and then crushing her throat with a heavy branch. He buries both bodies, washes his hands in the water and goes to the car, where his visibly shaken son is waiting. In contrast to the gruesome recent events, a cheerful song begins to play and Lok and his son drive off in the sunny afternoon.


  • Simon Yam as Lam Lok
  • Tony Leung Ka-fai as Big D
  • Louis Koo as Jimmy Lee
  • Nick Cheung as Jet
  • Cheung Siu-fai as Mr So
  • Lam Suet as Big Head
  • Gordon Lam as Kun
  • Wong Tin-lam as Uncle Teng Wai
  • Maggie Shiu as Big D's wife
  • David Chiang as Chief Superintendent Hui
  • Tam Ping-man as Uncle Cocky
  • Chan Siu-pang as Uncle Monk
  • Wong Chung as chairman Whistle
  • Che Biu-law as Tally
  • Robert Hung as Sam
  • Kwok Fung as Fish Head
  • Lam Man-wai as Sparky
  • Berg Ng as Senior Inspector Tad
  • Raymond Wong Ho-yin as Detective Wong
  • You Yong as Mainland police captain
  • Yuen Bo as Dinosaur
  • Yuen Bun as Incense Master
  • Ronald Yan as Senior Inspector Yu
  • Yu Yuen-yin as Long Gun
  • Wong Chi-wai as Blacky
  • Chiu Chi-shing as Long Hair
  • Wong Sze-yan as Chak
  • Lin Wenwei as Sparky
  • Ho Hon-chau as Uncle Double East
  • Tong Pau-chung as Uncle Chiu Chow
  • Ho Chu as Mon
  • Jonathan Lee as Denny
  • Cheung Chi-ping as Uncle Dead Dog
  • Law Wing-cheong as Four-Eye
  • Yu Sai-tang as Big D's lawyer
  • Chang Kin-yung as police officer at detention centre
  • Wong Wa-wo as society leader


Box office

At the end of its box-office run in Hong Kong, Election grossed about HK$15.59 million, which is considered to be quite high for a film that received a Category III rating (18+ restriction) in Hong Kong.


The A.V. Club's Ignatiy Vishnevetsky writes, "[Johnnie] To’s saga makes plain that self-interest, far more than traditional ideas about honor, defines contemporary crooks. While that’s hardly an astonishing revelation, the writer-director deftly generates suspense (as well as sly comedy) from a mood of all-consuming untrustworthiness. [...] Thrilling and amusing in equally dark measure, it’s an incisive portrait of a dysfunctional family-style organization struggling to update its sordid operation in an age of unchecked capitalist greed."[3]


Election was sold to more than 21 territories, including Optimum Releasing for the United Kingdom, ARP Sélection for France and Hopscotch Films for Australia, after screening at the 2005 Cannes Film Festival in competition. Tartan Films has acquired all United States rights to this movie as of May 2006.

Awards and nominations

The movie is notable in being nominated for 14 Golden Horse Awards in Hong Kong cinema. The film was named Best Film of 2005 in the Hong Kong Film Critics Society Awards, with To also clinching Best Director honours for the movie.

Award Category Name Outcome
25th Hong Kong Film Awards Best Picture Election Won
Best Director Johnnie To Won
Best Actor Tony Leung Ka-fai Won
Simon Yam Nominated
Best Screenplay Yau Nai-hoi
Yip Tin-shing
Best Supporting Actor Wong Tin-lam Nominated
Best Supporting Actress Maggie Siu Nominated
Best Cinematography Cheng Siu-Keung Nominated
Best Film Editing Patrick Tam Nominated
Best Original Film Score Lo Tayu Nominated
42nd Golden Horse Film Awards Best Picture Election Nominated
Best Director Johnnie To Nominated
Best Screenplay Yau Nai-hoi
Yip Tin-shing
Best Actor Tony Leung Ka-fai Nominated
Best Supporting Actor Wong Tin-lam Nominated
Best Sound Effects May Mok
Charlie Lo
Best Cinematography Cheng Siu-Keung Nominated
Best Original Film Score Lo Tayu Nominated
Best Make-up and Costume Design Stanley Cheung Nominated
Best Action Choreography Wong Chi-wai Nominated
12th Hong Kong Film Critics Society Awards Best Picture Election Won
Best Director Johnnie To Won
35th Festival de Cine de Sitges Best Director Johnnie To Won

See also


  1. "Box office by Country: Election Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 4 June 2012
  2. "Festival de Cannes: Election". festival-cannes.com. Retrieved 5 December 2009.
  3. "Johnnie To reimagines the gangster film for the modern-capitalism era". www.avclub.com. Retrieved 2015-11-17.

External links

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