A Better Tomorrow (1986)

August 29, 2003 • Film, Reviews

[director John Woo]

The energy of the Hong Kong new wave was flagging by 1986, when it was rejuvenated by the long-deserved success of director John Woo and actor Chow Yun-Fat. The talented duo, teamed with actors Ti Lung, Leslie Cheung, and Waise Lee (as well as overbearing producer Tsui Hark), delivered a crime-action thriller the likes of which hadn’t been seen before. The violence was stylized to a point most people hadn’t been able to envision until then. Among the classic set pieces is the one where Chow Yun-Fat hides a spare gun in a flower pot. Picking it up, he sports his trademark two-fisted gun-action for the first–but very far from the last–time in his career.

Plot-wise, it’s a typical melodrama: a gangster’s trying to go straight, just as his younger brother becomes a cop. When the former gangster gets sucked into the life again (aiding his blood-brother, Chow Yun-Fat), his younger brother doesn’t take it too well. There’s a lot of arguing and fistfighting between them until the gangster’s friend (the devil-may-care Chow) puts things right between the brothers and gets his brains blown out. I’ve seen Chow Yun-Fat’s characters live through maybe three movies. Needless to say, this isn’t one of them.


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