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Restaurant owner Ken Gor, twin brother of Mark Gor, teams up with police detective Kit and his struggling ex-con brother Ho to avenge his old friend's daughter's death by a Triad gang. Written by
L. Lim <firstname.lastname@example.org>
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There's no such thing as can't. You always have a choice.
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John Woo directed and wrote this sequel, Better Tomorrow 2 (1987), to his heroic bloodshed action smash hit Better Tomorrow, which he had made year earlier in 1986. The story begins where the first film left as Ho (Ti Lung) is in prison after the gun battle in which he and his brother Kit (Leslie Cheung) and Mark Lee (Chow Yun Fat) met their destiny at the end of the first film. Ho gets an opportunity to free himself from prison by helping police in finding a powerful crime lord and trapping him. Kit is police again and works in the same underground operation as Ho. This all leads to series of betrayal, death and fighting back as Mark's twin brother Ken (Chow) arrives from New Your to Hong Kong to help his friends in this heroic fight that will end in one of the most over-the-top gun battles ever committed on celluloid.
This film is more fierce than first Better Tomorrow, but not as fierce and merciless as Woo's most personal masterpiece, Bullet in the Head. Tomorrow 2 tells the same things about friendship and honor that the first film also told. In Woo's world, violence is always there and it is among the few ways his characters are able to communicate. Bullets are angry and when they hit, the result is always sad and irrevocable. Woo never accepts violence or justifies it, he just uses it in his films which are there to be interpreted and analyzed. His characters can be "good" and bad at the same time and he studies these elements in human psyche thru his films. He definitely doesn't praise violence as he has also said in interviews that he hates violence, and that's exactly why he depicts it so powerfully and also disturbingly in his films. He depicts violence in a way it is hard to neglect unlike most of the mainstream action films produced in Hollywood. When a man grabs a gun in order to use it at some other human being, he takes the full responsibility for his actions and this is once again, very sadly, shown in Better Tomorrow 2.
Better Tomorrow 2 is not as visually stunning as the first film, which ends in brilliant night time scene at the harbor where smoke and blue are as alive as the characters in that sad finale. Even greater use of color and smoke is in Ringo Lam's City on Fire as the end of the film with all its bullet holes and menacing atmosphere is among the most memorable segments in Hong Kong action cinema history. Woo uses his camera in Tomorrow 2 again very professionally, but the film doesn't look exactly as great as first Tomorrow film.
The final gun battle deserves also to be mentioned, since it is so incredible. The film was action choreographed by another Hong Kong master, Ching Siu Tung, who has been a choreographer in many Asian classics and has also directed films like Duel to the Death, Witch From Nepal, and more notably A Chinese Ghost Story trilogy and Swordsman films. The martial arts action and choreography in his films is totally stunning and also unique, and this really can be seen in Better Tomorrow 2 and especially in its finale, a gun battle so over the top it is almost cartoonish, but still never comic or laugh indulging at all. It is the most fierce segment of bullet spitting, blood spraying gun mayhem I have witnessed in any film, and I think the films which manage to come near this scene's power, come also from some Orient country, probably from Hong Kong since these film makers have their style in using camera and edits and it seems to have no comparison with films from other countries.
Better Tomorrow 2 is great piece of action mayhem cinema, with heart too, but this is not its director's masterpiece, which is in my opinion Bullet in the Head, a film which the director himself prefers, too. Better Tomorrow gets 9/10 from me and since it is not as deep and philosophical as possible, I really want to appreciate its cinematic styles and interesting themes and messages of film maker John Woo.
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