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
Original prints of the film's theatrical poster misspelled Parry Shen's name as "Perry Shen". See more »
Early in the film when Virgil is standing in the strip mall parking lot, a wide shot shows two blank store signs in the background. In the close-up, he has shifted down the parking lot slightly, and is now standing further to the right of the signs. This can be confirmed by looking at the addresses below each sign, which have changed. See more »
Just came back from a screening of this movie in NYC. Being Chinese American, I felt I could vicariously live through the characters' mishaps and adventures. I think this film is a manifestation of some unconscious fantasies I had during high school. Unfortunately, during high school I was too busy trying to land a spot in the incoming class of an Ivy League to think about power trips from petty crimes or even relieving the stress of perfectionism. Being female also dramatically reduced my access to the possibility for petty crimes and other risky experimentation. Chinese girls are raise to be good, dutiful daughters, who in turn become their own slave drivers feeding off of their need for perfectionism. Thanks to the oppressive histories of East Asian cultures, Asian parents brook no rebellion from girls. Girls are constantly taught that the slightest transgression will bring harsh criticism. And, having already fallen out of favor for not being born male, girls are dealt much harsher punishments than boys for rebellious behavior. The patriarchal adage "boys will be boys" resonates through Asian cultures with the accompanying implication that "girls must also be girls". Unfortunately, "Better Luck Tomorrow" makes no mention of the double standards imposed on Asian-American girls. It was disappointing to see the sole female actress become a pawn in the brokering of power between two high school boys.
The Asian girls in my high school who exhibited risky behavior were always sidelined by more daring male exploits. Essentially, female risky behavior amounted to wanton sex with men and occasional petty thievery. How little it differs from our non-Asian counterparts!
But if anything, at least this movie is not about kung fu fighting Chinese actors coupled with black or white male leads in movies like "Bulletproof Monk". Justin Lin's "Better Luck Tomorrow" aptly reminds the audience that Chow Young Fat, Jet Li, and Jacky Chan are not Asian-American men!
Criticisms aside, "Better Luck Tomorrow" is a clever film featuring some fine acting. The strengths and vulnerabilities of the Asian American boys are explored in a hitherto unprecedented way. Kudos to Jason Tobin for some fine acting!
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