HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Penny Slinger: Out of the Shadows
Girls Town
Burning
Hitchhikers, The
For All Mankind
Glass Key, The
Captor, The
Hide in Plain Sight
Wildlife
X2
Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story by Martin Scorsese
Heiress, The
Cold Pursuit
Firestorm
Dogs of War, The
Holy Mountain, The
Piercing
Under Fire
Jennifer on My Mind
People on Sunday
Lethal Weapon 4
Downhill Racer
Emily
Odette
Escape Room
Across the Pacific
Madeline's Madeline
You're Gonna Miss Me
Iron Sky: The Coming Race
Derby
Mortal Engines
Union City
Knife+Heart
Little Stranger, The
Sauvage
Watermelon Man
Wandering Earth, The
Good Fairy, The
Killer Party
Holmes & Watson
   
 
Newest Articles
Woo's the Boss: Last Hurrah for Chivalry & Hand of Death on Blu-ray
Get Ahead in Showbiz: Expresso Bongo and It's All Happening
Outer Space and Outta Sight: Gonks Go Beat on Blu-ray
Tucked: The Derren Nesbitt Interview
Locomotion Pictures: The Best of British Transport Films on Blu-ray
Roman Scandals: Extreme Visions from Ancient Rome
Spider-Wrong and Spider-Right: The Dragon's Challenge and Into the Spider-Verse
Monster Dog: Cujo on Blu-ray
For Christ's Sake: Jesus Christ Superstar and The Last Temptation of Christ
Not In Front of the Children: Inappropriate Kids Movies
Deeper into Ozploitation: Next of Kin and Fair Game
Between the Wars: Babylon Berlin Series 1&2 on DVD
Hard Luck Story: Detour on Blu-ray
Oh, What Happened to You? The Likely Lads on Blu-ray
Killer Apps: The Rise of the Evil 60s Supercomputers
   
 
  Better Tomorrow, A Woo Do You Think You Are?Buy this film here.
Year: 1986
Director: John Woo
Stars: Ti Lung, Leslie Cheung, Chow Yun-Fat, Emily Chu, Waise Lee, Fui-On Shing, Kenneth Tsang
Genre: Drama, Action, Thriller
Rating:  7 (from 5 votes)
Review: John Woo's 17th film proved to be one of the most influential in Hong Kong cinema, and was a springboard to cult superstardom for both the director and his leading man Chow Yun-Fat. While the pair would better it considerably with their subsequent collaborations — A Better Tomorrow II, The Killer and Hard-Boiled — it spawned an entire sub-genre of action thriller, commonly known as 'heroic bloodshed', that would prove endearingly popular in Hong Kong throughout the late 80s and 90s.

Viewed 16 years on, A Better Tomorrow has aged pretty well, although its mix of hard-hitting gun violence and soapy melodrama does sometimes prove a little jarring. But to be fair, most of its faults are those of its decade (in particular a grating synth score) and Woo's desire to put characters ahead of gunplay is what sets him apart from most of his peers.

Although his presence looms large over the whole film, Yun-Fat does in fact take third billing. He plays Mark, a suave, honourable gangster whose best pal, Ho (Ti Lung) is thinking of giving up the criminal life on account of his younger brother Kit's (Leslie Cheung) decision to enter the police force. Ho doesn't want to compromise his brother's position, but this is exactly what happens; their father is killed as a direct result of Ho's shady associations, Ho ends up in prison, Mark is crippled, and Kit is constantly refused the promotions he knows he deserved. Once out, Ho reteams with Mark and sets about righting some wrongs and patching things up with the increasingly unstable Kit.

The scene for which this film is best known — Mark strides into a restaurant and opens fire on its Triad customers — is still an electrifying sequence, and one that proved the blueprint for Woo's subsequent career. The squibs, the slow-motion, the dual-gun technique, super-fuckin'-cool-Chow Yun-Fat... it's all there, in two blistering minutes. The other action scenes do seem a little ordinary by comparison, but they are well placed and never gratuitous. In fact, considering the carnage that Woo would later unleash in, say, The Killer, A Better Tomorrow seems distinctly sedate.

The relationship between Ho and Kit is believable and nicely acted by Lung and Cheung; it's a shame the same can't be said for Kit and his girlfriend (Emily Chu), who is only there to look disapproving at all these men and their macho pursuits. There are no great surprises here, but it's a slick enough thriller and the beginning of a golden age for Hong Kong action.

Aka: Ying Huang Boon Sik
Reviewer: Daniel Auty

 

This review has been viewed 7495 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 

John Woo  (1946 - )

One of the most influential directors working in the modern action genre. Hong Kong-born Woo (real name Yusen Wu) spent a decade making production-line martial arts movies for the Shaw Brothers before his melodramatic action thriller A Better Tomorrow (1987) introduced a new style of hyper-realistic, often balletic gun violence.

It also marked Woo's first collaboration with leading man Chow-Yun Fat, who went on to appear in a further three tremendous cop/gangster thrillers for Woo - A Better Tomorrow II, The Killer and Hard Boiled. The success of these films in Hong Kong inspired dozens of similar films, many pretty good, but few with Woo's artistry or emphasis on characters as well as blazing action.

In 1993, Woo moved over to Hollywood, with predictably disappointing results. Face/Off was fun, but the likes of Broken Arrow, Windtalkers and Mission: Impossible 2 too often come across as well-directed, but nevertheless generic, studio product. Needs to work with Chow-Yun Fat again, although his return to Hong Kong with Red Cliff proved there was life in the old dog yet.

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star do you think makes the best coffee?
Emma Stone
Anna Kendrick
Michelle Rodriguez
Sir Patrick Stewart
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
  Rachel Franke
Andrew Pragasam
Enoch Sneed
  Derrick Smith
Paul Shrimpton
Darren Jones
George White
   

 

Last Updated: