Election 2 Blu-ray Review
'Election 2' is presented in widescreen 2.35:1 with MPEG 4 AVC 1080p coding.
The opening scenes, wherein Jimmy surveys a location for a prospective investment, displays a very crisp and clean image, producing an impressive depth. Background objects are clearly visible and facial close-ups can be stunning on occasion. This level of quality is continued for the remainder of the presentation. Fine detail is also prevelant, with the outline of Jimmy's vest showing (even through the heavy fabric of his shirt) and the individual tassels visible at the end of the Chinese lanterns which adorn the Society's inner sanctum. Colouring is spot on, with strong primaries bringing out the best in this transfer. A shot of a glass containing red wine, which graduates from deep red to clear liquid tinged with pink, provides a fine example. The contrast ratio is strong and boasts bold blacks, which are especially noticeable in the dark suits of the various gangsters and in the oily darkness of Jimmy's hair. Shadow detail illuminates the gloom when allowed; with To using pitch black shadowing throughout to add to the already stylistic presentation, increasing the mystery factor of many of the scenes.
Overall this transfer is very cinematic, while still retaining the crucial qualities of a good high definition transfer. There is grain present and while organic and unobtrusive for the majority, it can border on excessive in a couple of the scenes. Most of the objects in shot demonstrate a very pleasing depth, with fine detail being a strong point of the presentation. This transfer really makes the most of Cheng Siu-keung's cinematography and comes recommended.
'Election 2' comes packed with an impressive dts HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track.
Opening with the thunderous score and other effects, initially this uncompressed track sounds very pleasing and demonstrates good front seperation. Ambient effects are scattered throughout and always keep the soundstage feeling active. Birds, crickets, dogs barking and the whistling wind can all be heard seeping from the various channels. The city based scenes provide ample opportunity for surround activity, with the bustle of crowds and the rumble of traffic emanating from the surround speakers. All of the “action” effects are very realistic such as the sickening thud of a sledge hammer impacting on flesh. The subwoofer does not get as much of a workout as I would have liked but there are various rumblings to keep things ticking along. Dialogue is crystal clear and never difficult to follow.
Although Tayu Lo is not on board to produce another superlative score for the second 'Election' installment (although the 'Election' theme does feature), this aspect of the presentation still plays as important a part as it did in the first movie. Right from the opening scenes the score makes its presence felt. It comes forth to dominate the soundstage with deep bass from skin drums accompanied by treble high violins. The front stereo channels are used to good effect, as are the surround channels, which produce decent score bleed for the duration. During some of the more violent scenes the score becomes the only audible effect, demonstrating the power and emotion which it can evoke.
This surround track really adds to the entire presentation with almost constant aural activity and a powerful score which underpins the entire production. It's clear that the sound engineering on this track has been carefully planned and so comes recommended.
As was the case with 'E1', 'E2' on Blu-ray lifts its extras wholesale from the DVD Special Edition release. All extras thankfully have English subtitles but disappointingly there is no exclusive HD content or commentary track on this BD release.
Interview with Johnnie To (SD 11mins) In this interview To explores how people perceive his producitons and what he thinks they expected from the 'Election' movies. He also expands on how Jimmy became the main character for the second installment, the evolution of the triads with the political changes in Hong Kong and the impact he feels the 'Election' series has made.
Interview with Lam Suet (SD 17mins) Suet speaks about the infamous spoon eating interlude from the first movie and how he provided the inspiration for this gruesome piece. He expands on his favourite scene from the 'Election' movies, how he became an actor and his relationship with To. Archive footage is also included in this mini-biopic feature.
Interview with Lam Ka Tung (SD 14mins) - Tung comments on his character and memorable scenes from the 'Election' movies. He explains how he shot his action segments and his experiences of working with To.
Making Of (SD 7mins) - This short feature gives a brief introduction from To explaining why he made 'E2', with additional interview segments featuring the cast speaking about the movie and some b-roll/completed footage from the movie itself.
Trailers (SD)- Trailer for the feature presentation.
TV Spots (SD)- Three TV spots for the movie.
Photo Gallery (SD 1min) - A collection of stills from the movie set to music.
'Election 2' is the second installment of the triad epic from revelatory Asian director Johnnie To. Once again the time has come for the Wo Shing Society to elect a new Chairman. Jimmy is the reluctant favourite for the position, torn between his blossoming career as a property developer and the ultimate power which the Dragon's Head baton will grant him. To complicate matters, the current Chairman, Lok, is not willing to step down without a fight. The intricate and carefully planned plot charts the fully fledged war for control of the triad organization, which takes place between the steely Jimmy and the wily Lok. The never static camera of To sees all and really places the viewer in the midst of the action. With plenty of “high noon” scenarios, where the violent triad members face off, the fast pace of the movie provides a refreshing change to the first offering. To finally delivers what he hinted at during 'Election', a highly exciting and thrilling movie which makes full use of both his immense talent and the stellar cast at his disposal. 'Election 2' comes highly recommended but really needs to be watched in conjunction with the first to get the full impact and enjoyment.
The video presentation is crisp and clear, with a bold contrast ratio and strong primary colouring. Detail is impressive throughout and makes the most of the beautiful cinematography. The surround mix has clearly been well engineered and provides ample surround activity. Front separation and dialogue are spot on, although the bass did not reach the depths which BD is capable of. The score, although not as striking as Tayu Lo's in the original, is nonetheless very engaging with haunting violins and intense skin drums evoking all the intended emotions. The extras package is once again lifted wholesale from the Special Edition DVD release and although in standard definition, provides lots of insight into the movie. With a very solid video and audio presentation in conjunction with a stellar movie, 'Election 2' really is a must own for all fans of Asian cinema.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £21.69
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