Ben is a perfectionist and overachiever whose tunnel vision leads to nothing less than graduating at the top of his class. As he struggles to achieve social success, he discovers his darker side. He and his friends: Virgil, Daric and Han lead a double life of mischief and petty crimes to alleviate the pressures of perfection. As their adopted identity grows, the gang tumbles into a downward spiral of excitement, excess and fun. Written by
4 Asian high school friends seem to have it all, good grades, a bright future where colleges are going to be fighting over their applications and the world is their oyster. But beneath the suburban undercurrent lies a group of the most jaded Asian-American kids who get in over their head in illicit activities.
The film is narrated by Ben, a smart kid who is going about his usual run of the mill life. Eventually he is approached by Derrick a born class leader who finally mentions to him, Why are you being a second class benchwarmer on a basketball team?? When you can be your own man?
It turns out Derrick first starts asking Ben to write up cheat sheets for $50 bucks, and then with the enlistment of scrawny Virgil and his no nonsense cousin Han, the guys end up with a reputation that leads to bigger and riskier things...
The film has a great fresh style and pace to it, Justin Lin's direction is impecable. Slow motion edits, fast cuts, perfect timing with the soundtrack, good cinematography are all apparant and enjoyable and not to annoying as they sometimes can be when they are thrown at you constantly. What's probably the most telling thing about this movie is the focus on Asian-Americans in a not so seen light. All these kids have the world ahead of them, perfect grades, homes, money, but they are all dead inside and lacking direction. It doesn't help also that their parents in the film are nowhere to be seen, and no doubt non existent. All the trappings of success and great intelligence that the kids have is no match for there lack of faith and spiritual deadness which Better Luck Tomorrow shows off impecably!
Most important is the camradare these kids share and the wonderful casting that was chosen. Derick exhudes confidence and smarts like a crooked politician, Han is the cool guy doesn't say much looks like he can break your face with his intesnse stare, and Ben is the guy we follow through all his dillemas and trials with much anticipation and hope. But the best is saved for the scrawny Virgil played AMAZINGLY by Jason J Tobin.
He's the small kid who ends up a lot like the whipping post, and over compensates his rash bravado and toughness to hide his obvious weaknesses and extreme vulnerability. He is the guy you can't help smile and appreciate but also pray for knowing that he is in someway doomed cause of his lack of self esteem.
Rating 9 out of 10.
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