When three close friends escape from Hong Kong to war-time Saigon to start a criminal's life, they all go through a harrowing experience which totally shatters their lives and their friendship forever.
Tony Chiu-Wai Leung,
The Thai government hires a group of Chinese mercenaries to capture a powerful drug lord from the Golden Triangle. The mercenaries manage to capture the drug lord, but soon find themselves ... See full summary »
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 <email@example.com>
The original "A Better Tomorrow" changed the face of action films forever. A shoot-em-up gangster melodrama from a then-little-known filmmaker named John Woo, "Tomorrow"'s rampant violence and stylish action scenes instantly established Woo as one of the greatest action directors in the world, and the result was one of Hong Kong's highest grossers ever. After the trend-setting scene where Chow Yun-Fat burst into a room and gunned down a group of bad guys in all sorts of stylish and inventive fashions, everybody in Hong Kong had to go out and buy a trench coat like the one he wore, which guaranteed the actor instant stardom as well. Naturally, a sequel had to be made right away, and in 1987 came "A Better Tomorrow II". You can tell it was rushed into production because it's a little rough around the edges (which probably explains why John Woo has never made another sequel since). And, unfortunately, most of the copies you are likely find of this movie will be marred by atrocious subtitles, which are hard to read, chopped off at the sides of the screen, and are fraught with spelling errors. You're not even two minutes into the movie before you see "hopefully" spelled "hope_lully". But bad subtitles do not ruin a film where what you see on the screen is too explosive to be described with words.
This was the film where John Woo demonstrated that he could just go all-out, and two of his works that followed this, "The Killer" and "Hard Boiled", are placed by many among the ranks of the greatest action films of all time. While "A Better Tomorrow II" is certainly a dynamic piece of work by Woo, it will never be looked upon as a strong example of action movie storytelling. The plot is often confusing and lazily constructed, and commits the ultimate "sin of sequels" when Chow Yun-Fat is introduced into the story. You may recall that his character, Mark, was killed at the end of the original "Better Tomorrow", so how can he return for the sequel? Why, by saying that Mark had a twin brother, of course. Normally, absurd contrivances like that are enough to destroy the credibility of an entire movie, but all is instantly forgiven in Chow's introductory scene when he responds to a mafioso kingpin's bullying by forcing him to eat his rice. It's a delightful, hilarious sequence, and NO other action star could've pulled it off. After watching it, I was quite happy that Mark had a twin brother.
It's the individual moments like that which make "A Better Tomorrow II" an action classic. On an overall scale, it may not be as good as its predecessor, but the moments that do work turn it into a much more exciting film. And boy, when this film works, it WORKS! The final twenty minutes may be the best you see in ANY action film! A very powerful death scene is immediately followed by an absolutely incredible finale in which the heroes barge into the home of the villain and deliver carnage like you've never seen it before. The heroes use guns, grenades and even a samurai sword to mow down the opposition and, by the end, there are more bodies than one can count. This is the first action set piece in which John Woo just decided to go completely berserk, though it would certainly not be the last. Of course, everything in "Better Tomorrow II" is over-the-top melodrama and would probably seem laughable if seen in an American action picture, but what sets the Hong Kong genre apart from all others is that the sheer energy and passion in the filmmaking can make even the hokiest of situations work wonders. And at its best, "Better Tomorrow II" does work wonders. It is so easy to overlook a film's flaws when it makes the can't-miss decision to deliver the goods in the most electrifying ways possible.
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