February 09, 2006


EXILED, Johnnie To's upcoming sequel to THE MISSION, has been sold by Media Asia to dozens of territories including Italy, Greece, Cyprus, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam. However, no one in America is buying it, which is almost exactly what happened when Media Asia sold ELECTION to almost every territory in the world except North America last year.

It boggles my mind that tons of junky Japanese and Korean horror movies, some of which were huge flops in their home countries, sit on video store shelves all over the US and yet Johnnie To's movies, which scoop up awards, make money at the box office, and regularly premiere at Cannes are dissed like chop sockey junk.

February 9, 2006 at 07:31 AM in News | Permalink


pssst - Media Asia didn't do the selling of ELECTION, the sales company Celluloid Dreams did and it marked one of the first times a reputable sales company with international respect handled a Johnnie To film. Can't access the Screen Daily story to see who is selling the new film.

Remember when it premeired in Cannes it got dissed by majority of the English language press who didn't get the film at all. That poor rep in the press might have buyers pass or ignore it. And, knowing that ELECTION 2 is around the corner, they might want to see that before paying for the first one... At least Tai Seng don't have there mits on it... yet.

Plus the junky horror stuff usually goes for a lower prices (especially if it was a flop in its home country) or is thrown into package deals...

Posted by: jiangtou | Feb 9, 2006 8:24:04 AM

You're right - sorry about that. Celluloid Dreams did do the sales on ELECTION. But I only saw one bad review of it on ScreenDaily - although it did seem to get completely ignored in the mix of Cannes this year.

Media Asia Distribution did the sales of EXILED itself (it's also doing sales for ISABELLA). Berlin starts tomorrow so this may all be pre-festival sales. The big territories might not bite until during the fest dates themselves.

On a related distribution note: although THE PROMISE still can't find a US distributor, Focus is now handling international sales for Zhang Yimou's Chow Yun-fat/Gong Li project that's in preproduction.

Posted by: Grady Hendrix | Feb 9, 2006 10:10:21 AM

can someone clear up something for me about Election? I have seen most of Johnnie To's films and loved them all. I thought Election was perhaps his best overall film BUT I have one nagging question about the ending (SPOILERS)

When Simon Yam kills Tony Leung Ka Fai, where did the grave come from? The action makes it seem that Yam just then decided to kill Leung Ka Fai but the grave is already dug. So did he dig it knowing he was going to whack Tony OR are they at a graveyard or what?

Great film otherwise.

And in the Mission: the ending confused me (I'm dense sometimes and the DVD quality sucked): Wong used a blank bullet which is what he sends to Lam Suet? So the dude wore his bulletproof vest to the meeting at the restaurant cause he knew Wong was gonna shoot him AND Wong -- who had to shoot and had to show up and be loyal to the gang -- used the blanks as well to be doubly-sure he wouldn't kill the guy and yet to complete his mission? Great film. Either interpretation works for me.


Posted by: glenn | Feb 9, 2006 11:14:20 AM

Answer to Glenn's query:-

I have to admit that I automatically assumed that

(SPOILER) Simon Yam's character dug the grave/big hole in the ground (END OF SPOILER)

Posted by: YTSL | Feb 9, 2006 6:33:42 PM

I hope that ELECTION eventually finds an American distributor, as I think it's To's best film in years. However, when distributors have taken chances on To's films in the past, they've gotten burned, as no one has shown up. Bad marketing? Dumb Americans who think everything Hong Kong is passe? Who knows, but the prospct of a 2-week Cinema Village run isn't going to get Sony Classics' execs running for their wallets. Or even Wellspring's.

Posted by: Steve | Feb 9, 2006 7:58:21 PM

Re: Glenn's query.

After Lok has "offed" Big D and realises there's a problem with Mrs Big D, he races back up the hillside. Extensive analysis reveals a fleeting glimpse of some orange plastic road fencing, leading me to believe the spade grabbed by Lok has been handily left there by some workmen? After disposing of Mrs Big D, he has ample time to dig a nice big grave.

Great ending, great film!

(but, no - I can't fully explain the ending of "The Mission" either, as seen through Mei Ah's pixellated fog. This is surely crying out for a proper DVD release in the US/UK!)

Posted by: Richard | Feb 10, 2006 4:59:47 AM

So, is there a nice DVD of THE MISSION available anywhere yet?

Posted by: Goro | Feb 10, 2006 6:27:10 AM

Celluloid Dreams is selling ELECTION 2.

BTW, Variety love ELECTION. Hoping it will well.

Posted by: No name | Feb 10, 2006 7:56:27 AM

I thought Wong merely used the blanks to shoot the guy. Wasn't sure about the bulletproof vest.

Posted by: Edmund Yeo | Feb 10, 2006 8:04:04 AM

well the blanks in the Mission lead back to the exploding cigarette gag earlier in the film. I like to think that the ending of the Mission allows all the characters to do their duty *and* save face: Francis Ng shoots the plates, not Wong; Wong shoots the guy with blanks; the dude shows up to meet his punishment but wears his bulletproof vest (which we learned about earlier in the film); the restaurant owner has already been shown to be tight with Wong so we know whatever happens at that dinner will not be revealed outside the room; and remember Lam Suet gave Wong the gun and then when Wong pulls out a different colored gun at the table, Lam has that "uh oh" look -- when Wong sends him the shells at the end of the film, it's just a little joke back to Lam. Perhaps I'm overanalysing it but really, just a stunningly great film all around. But crap DVD!

Posted by: glenn | Feb 10, 2006 8:37:40 AM

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