Pop quiz, hotshot! I'm going to name three things. One of them is awesome; the other two are not. Grab a pencil and circle the one that's awesome. Ready? Go!
THINGS THAT ARE AWESOME
(B) More Talking
(C) Ruthless Hong Kong Gangsters
PENCILS DOWN! So unless you're my grandmother, you should have circled (C) Ruthless Hong Kong Gangsters. Because here's the thing about Hong Kong gangsters: One minute you'll be having some tea with one of them and the next—BAM! BAM! BANG!—you'll be bleeding from the 8,000 holes that Triad assassins have punched through you via high-caliber automatic handguns before screeching away on their souped-up crotch-rocket motorcycles. THAT'S HOW THINGS WORK IN HONG KONG! Delightful tea! BAM! BAM! BANG! SCREEEEEEECH!
No, wait. That's how things should go in the seedy underbelly of Hong Kong. But according to Triad Election, here's what happens: "Care for some delightful tea?" "Why yes, thank you!" Talk, talk, talk. ("I want to be boss of the Triads!" "No, I want to be boss of the Triads!") Erik's grandmother: "My, what a lovely picture show!"
To its credit, Triad Election does have this one part where a dude gets beaten to death with sledgehammers, then chopped up and fed to a dog. But the rest of the film is mostly just an overlong tease. Not every movie about Hong Kong criminals needs to be a John Woo action-fest, but with this much potential for sketchy characters and engaging situations, it's a shame that Triad Election feels so flat. (It doesn't help that Triad Election is actually Election 2—a sequel to a Hong Kong flick that few Americans have seen.) There's plenty of (A) and (B) here, but when it comes to (C), Triad Election feels like a pale imitation of other, better movies about ruthless Hong Kong gangsters.