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NYFF: “Triad Election.”

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"To succeed and prosper, we must live harmoniously."
Johnny To‘s "Election" was a nimble examination of the Hong Kong triads post-changeover that neatly punctured the myths of loyalty and brotherhood in organized crime; the New York Film Festival seems to believe you don’t need to have seen it to appreciate its sequel, the better if more bombastic "Triad Election," and they’re probably right (the two films will be released in some way by Tartan next year — God knows what they’re going to do about the titles). "Triad Election" focuses on Jimmy (the ever-dapper Louis Koo), a minor character in the first film who’s grown into a major if reluctant figure in the Wo Sing society.

Jimmy’s made his fortune running a bootleg DVD empire, and now he has plans for a big real estate investment deal in China and a legit life ("Our children will become doctors or lawyers," he expansively informs his girlfriend). While greasing the wheels of mainland property development with a bribe, he’s picked up by the cops, who know perfectly well who Jimmy is, and who inform him he’s no longer allowed to conduct business in China — at least, not while he’s just another Triad member. If he were to become chairman, say, it might be another story.

The bleak suggestion at the center of "Triad Election" is that all the violent gangster machinations that unfold as Jimmy tries to free himself from Triad life by putting himself in charge of it are dwarfed by the terrifying force of the capitalism-embracing Chinese government. Jimmy is manipulated into competing with former mentor Lok (Simon Yam), who in the first film fought off Tony Leung Ka Fai‘s Big D for the chairmanship, and in this film finds himself unwilling to let go of the position now that his term is up. Lok, a mild-looking family man with a prodigious capacity for violence, is a formidable opponent, but Jimmy proves himself even more ruthless. The two gather their forces and grind each other to grist (literally, in one scene that’s not for the squeamish), while the Triad’s old guard, the elders gathered in shadowy tea rooms discussing tradition, seems all the more ineffectual and out of touch.

To is a brilliant manipulator of unexpected tension — an early scene in a restaurant and another in a car with a would-be assassin are masterpieces of suspense simply because they expand in seemingly unchoreographed directions. His action sequences are just as unflinching and unromanticized, men beating each other to a pulp, slashing each other with knives, and dying messily. The film is plagued by a sense of emotional remove that lowers the stakes somewhat; we’re given the story of Jimmy selling his soul without ever being convinced he had much of one to begin with. The ending comes across as less tragic than ironically just; everyone gets exactly what they deserve.

Screens October 10 and 11 at Alice Tully Hall; will receive a theatrical release from Tartan Films in 2007.

+ "Triad Election" (NYFF)

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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