Johnnie To's Election

I just finished watching Election. Another of the HK Triad genre. Along the same lines as the super duper famous Young and Dangerous series and the modern popular Infernal Affairs I and II. Johnnie To brings to us a tale of the election of a new chairman of the family. A society that has 50,000 members by itself. Controlled by 9 godfathers.

Review link.

However, we as observers in Singapore can only marvel at the brazen outwardness in which triad and gang related activities are conducted in the homes of the truly big names. HongKong's triads, the Italian mafia, the Russian mafya, the black hoods in the USA. Triads however have their roots in more chivalrous and patriotic ideals.

300 years ago, the Manchurian Empire exterminated patriotic Shaolin monks.5 survivors got away joined forces, swore to be brothers to restore the Ming Empire.
Known as the "Five Ancestors" they created the Hung society. It conducted heroic uprisings.Thousands of patriots died valiantly in battle. The Hung continued to exist as a secret society.

From the movie:

Monologue by "official ceremony" conductor, ceremony here is like a real election where after the nominations, campaigning, bribing and finally polling, the winning members are sworn in in front of the God of War [their main deity]

On the 7th day of the 10th moon of the Yi Xi year we nine brothers kneel before the altar of the gods to make a pledge like the Five Ancestors. We will form a league of brethren. We nine leaders unite in fraternity in the name of Heaven, Earth and the Mings.
We nine brothers: With one heart, and in honour all united in life and death. Born apart, we will die together. We pledge allegiance to Wo Sing society. We pledge to look out for each others' wellbeing. Loyalty shall lead to prosperity. Traitors, renegades, and those of no honour shall be killed by 3 knives and 5 thunderbolts mercilessly pursued and cursed by the gods.

Each of the 9 godfathers, pricks his finger and drops blood into a bowl of water. Chicken is sacrificed and its blood added to the mix. Joss paper and blood sacrifice is offered to the gods.

Now the Chairman[Lok played by the suave Simon Yam] speaks:

Honour shall bring prosperity. Those of no honour will be broken. [smashes bowl].The God of War is our witness. Our sabres united as 9 brothers. We shall no longer fight. If one of us is in danger the rest shall go to his rescue. We shall conquer Tsim Sha Tsui!
I, Lok, shall be the first to fight. I shall be the first to offer money. Nothing will stop me, I will scare the enemy away.I shall fight on the front line. May my brothers prosper! May the gods protect us!

Ah, the sweet scent of brotherhood. The word is much bastardized around here though. Everything also brother brother. But then again, watch the flick and you will see the utter pristine values of loyalty, justice and good common sense within the chaotic underworld of it all.

Imagine, the anti-triad task force chief tells one of the "uncles": Its impossible to exterminate the triads, what I want is peace. A truce.

The "uncle" replies: War is imminent. Wo Sing society itself has 50,000 members. There are another 300,000 triad members in the other societies. Can your prison system handle all of us with enough law and order.

Now, imagine if one of us was to have that same conversation with the SSB. Hmmmmm.

*click on images to blow them up to read the words*

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1 comment:

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