Aatish: Feel the Fire (1994)
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John Woo's Ying Huang Boon Sik/A Better Tomorrow(1986) was groundbreaking when first released because of the stylistic depiction of the action scenes. Its success spurred a new genre in Hong Kong cinema known as Heroic Bloodshed. These films were usually gangster movies which were characterized by outrageous gun battles, heavy action, and high melodrama. Hong Kong cinema in the mid 1980s to early 1990s was in the midst of a gangster film craze similar to Hollywood in the 1930s-1940s, France in the 1950s-1960s, Japan in the 1960s-1970s, and Italy in the 1970s-1980s. A Better Tomorrow(1986) is to Heroic Bloodshed what A Fistful of Dollars(1966) was to the Spaghetti Western.
A Better Tomorrow focuses on the age old themes of honor and loyalty. The characters of Ho and Mark are honorable gangsters in an era of double crosses and mistrust. Ho and Mark are at odds with the changing value system and this puts them as people who are outmoded in their principles. Honor and loyalty in A Better Tomorrow(1986) is greatly emphasized as the marks of a good hearted person. Mark Gor is very honorable and loyal in his personalty compared to Shing who is the opposite.
John Woo's main concern is to place high importance on the idea of brotherhood. According to John woo in this film, the tight bonding between men is something that was lost among youngsters at that time. Brotherhood in the film is complex and emotional. The relationship between Ho and Mark is so strong that there is nothing that can smash it. The scene where Mark tells of his ordeals at a nightclub as a first time gangster is nostalgic and touching.
Famous for the clothes Mark Gor wears as for anything else in the film. Began a trend in fashion around Hong Kong when many people started wearing the same kind of outfit as Mark Gor. Quentin Tarantino loved the look of Mark that for weeks he dressed like him to feel and look cool. In John Woo films there is always focus on the fashion of his characters. Mark Gor was the Rick Blaine of the 1980s.
A Better Tomorrow(1986) changed the look of action films with the famous use of pistols by Brother Mark in the restaurant. The first of many elaborate gun battles that dominates the films that follows A Better Tomorrow(1986). Although John Woo would film many wonderful action scenes in the next few years, there never would be a scene like this one which is full of energy and freshness. I enjoyed it when Mark Gor places guns inside flower pots as backup because the idea is cleaver and original. This scene is parodied in the climatic portion of Just Heroes(1987).
Ying Huang Boon Sik(1986) gave stardom to an actor known for his roles in Hong Kong television named Chow Yun Fat. Before the film's success, Chow Yun Fat was considered box office poison in Hong Kong. His charismatic and suave performance as the tragic Mark Gor broke that reputation. Chow Yun Fat is the best actor to come out of Asian cinema since Toshiro Mifune and Jo Shishido. He is the most flamboyant actor in the world who is better than any actor that was nominated for Best Actor at the Oscars.
The motif of sacrifice for redemption is part of Woo's religious beliefs. The heroes in his bloodshed films perform sacrifices to purify themselves within. The death of Mark Gor is a big sacrifice because it makes Ho and Kit Brothers again. What's sad about the death of Mark is its the only way for Ho and Mark to reconcile with each other. This motif also plays big in The Killer(1989) and Bullet in the Head(1990). The story is simple but compelling. Ti Lung made a big comeback with his role after years of mediocrity. He gives a performance that is deeply emotional and mature. Leslie Cheung also performs well as the headstrong but naive and stubborn Kit Sung. Waise Lee is excellent as the pompous and two faced Triad boss, Shing.
Gunfight at the end of A Better Tomorrow is less high body count and refined than in later John Woo films. Still exhilarating and fun to watch. The shootout is filmed in the spirit of Sam Peckinpah and Sergio Leone. When Chow Yun Fat comes out shooting like John Wayne, the film is at a high adrenaline level. One of the reasons why I love this movie.
Plot becomes more emotionally intense and less melodramatic with the energetic direction of John Woo. What makes the film work is the large dose of sentiments given by John Woo. He films the action and dramatic scenes with much passion and thoughtfulness. He is good at directing Chow Yun Fat and Ti Lung in giving great performances. A Better Tomorrow(1986) made John Woo an action guru after years doing comedies and being known as the king of comedy in Hong Kong cinema.
However, the copying was done in an excellent way. Aditya Panscholi in Chow-Yun-Fat's role does a wonderful job. His best performance in his not-so-good career as an actor. Sanjay Dutt, as usual, is awesome. No credit to the Director, Editor and Screenplay-writer as all they did was shameless copying. The superb acting performances by Dutt and Panscholi make the movie to a nice watch but the makers make it a pathetic downer by stealing everything scene-by-scene in to-to.
Baba (Sanjay Dutt) and Nawab (Aditya Panscholi) are the best hit men in town. They live for each other and would die for each other. Nawab doesn't have a family, but Baba has his younger brother (Atul Agnihotri). Baba is trying hard to keep his brother from the crime business and is grooming him to become a cop.
On an ill fated day Nawab decides to go for the 'namaz' when they are supposed to make a deal with Shaki Kapoor. Shakti tricks Baba as well as corners Nawab too. Baba serves a couple of years in prison while Nawab has his legs chopped off and left to beg for existence.
Meanwhile Avi finishes his training and is on trail for these gangsters. Half successful attempts are made to show the conflict Avi faces between his duty as a cop and his loyalty to his brother.
The best scene is when Baba has been released. Nawab, on a dark rainy night, has limped under a bridge and is about to take a bite of the dirty and wet piece of bread that is his dinner when he hears the words 'Kya Nawab, akele akele' ie 'Hey Nawab, having it alone ... huh!'. Even before raising his head to look who it is, his eyes are already in tears. He knows his friends Baba is back, his pillar of strength Baba is back and things will not be the same again. I will never forget Aditya Panscholi in this scene.
Nawab, proves his loyalty to his friend when in the climax he takes a bullet to protect Avi and dies. Even Baba in the end surrenders to law to protect the credentials of his cop brother.
Excellent movie. Emotionally charged. If you are the one who would go to any lengths for friendship or love, you know what I mean.
Direction by Sanjay Gupta is quite good Music is decent
Sanjay Dutt is good as BABA in her role only he could fit in though a bit raw those days Aditya Panscholi is great as Nawab, Their camaraderie is awesome Karisma and Raveena are the heroines Atul Agnihotri is as usual Gulshan Grover as Kanya with a wounded eye is as usual,Shakti Kapoor is good as the villain, Ajit is okay Amongst rest Vishwajeet Pradhan is okay, Kader Khan provides some light moments