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6/10
Melodramatic Remake
claudio_carvalho6 September 2015
In Busan, South Korea, the powerful arms traffickers Kim Hyeok (Jin-mo Ju) and Yeong-choon (Seung-heon Song) are best friends. Hyeok has spent many months seeking out his younger brother Kim Cheol (Kang-woo Kim) that was left behind by Hyeok with their mother while escaping from North Korea. When Hyeok finally finds Cheol, his brother blames him for the death of their mother that was beaten to death in the prison and keeps distance from Hyeok.

When Hyeok travels with the gangster Tae Min (Han Sun Jo) to Thailand for a negotiation, he is betrayed by Tae Min and is arrested by the police. Meanwhile Cheol joins the police force to become a detective and Yeong-choon kills the gang that betrayed his friend. When Hyeok is finally released from the Thai prison and returns to Busan, he finds that his brother is a detective investigating Tae Min and Yeong-choon limped and in complete misery. But Hyeok promises that he would not return to life of outlaw. But he is haunted by his past and the need of protecting his estranged brother. .

"Moo-jeok-ja", a.k.a. "A Better Tomorrow", is an Asian crime film excessively melodramatic. The good storyline about brotherhood, friendship and loyalty discloses a plot confused in the beginning but also full of action. However the dramatic relationship between the two brothers becomes an annoying soap opera after the repetition of the same situation with Cheol rejecting his brother. Better off watching John Woo's "Ying hung boon sik" ("A Better Tomorrow" 1986) again. My vote is six.

Title (Brazil): Not Available
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5/10
tricked into seeing this, and it was... not bad, not very good, just "decent"
Quinoa198423 November 2010
A Better Tomorrow - for some of us cinephiles the film's name brings to mind images of guys (i.e. Chow Yun-Fat in his break-out role and performance that made him a star in Hong Kong) in trench-coats and ray-ban sunglasses with big friggin guns firing away in blazing battles staged with a balletic precision and melodramatic (or just operatic) sleight of hand by John Woo. It was a classic unto itself, if not as polished as The Killer or as crazy as Hard Boiled with just as much (or more) genuine heart to its dramatic acting and story. So surprised I was then to see that my local cineplex- which often gets Asian films to cater to the the nearby town that is predominantly Korean- that 'A Better Tomorrow' would be coming to that theater for a two-week run. What better way to see Woo's film, I thought, than on a big screen like one of the ones at my local theater. I was even told (perhaps misleadingly to buy a ticket and/or concessions) that it was the 80's Woo film, albeit "Korean". Hmm, I thought, is it Korean? I thought it was from HK, like Woo's films usually are, but maybe it's dubbed in Korean for the community... hmm...

And no, lo and behold, it was really a remake (I can tell this as not an accident as Woo himself is credited here as exec producer). I decided to let the movie speak for itself; maybe someone would riff of of Woo's film while putting his own distinct take on the material. Suffice to say it's not anything to write home about. It takes the ingredients of the original story- a tale of brothers and betrayal, cops and gangsters, and a showdown at a big dock/shipping yard (that last part was the one thing that really stuck out most among set- pieces, and it's recreated here)- and just makes it... ordinary. It's a thriller that has a few decent performances (I couldn't tell you exactly who as I left before the credits rolled, albeit the main gangster villain reminded me of the villain from Oldboy, and it's that's the case then very good work there by a proved guy). It has a few flashy-violent scenes. Most memorable for me some time after the movie's end is when a character, after shooting up a massage parlor loaded with bad guys and with only a minor wound in his shoulder, walks away with sunglasses on, trench-coat on, and is trying to look super-cool... and then gets shot through the knee and his cool is taken down a peg.

But there's not really much to invest in any one character, and no actor here is like a Chow Yun-Fat or even a Ti-Lung, who were two major assets to the success of Woo's film as real actors with real star appeal. The guys here are workmanlike, easy to see how they go through the motions, and the director mostly lets the music (which even for an Asian crime movie) go way over the top to try to direct emotion from the audience when what's there should be enough, very stock stuff. If one has never seen the original Woo film, I could imagine some perfunctory enjoyment coming from the material, but the problem I had (and perhaps this is somewhat my fault and happens sometimes with Korean movies) was I couldn't keep track of some of the principle characters. I lost track of who was who in the first half hour of the movie, and had to be reminded when a character said someone's name. It finally got into a good groove once it flashed forward to three years later, and a character with a particular limp is distinctive. But the story doesn't always feel very closely knit together.

There's nothing in it that is so offensive as to want to leave the theater. There's also nothing that grabs me in and makes me rush out to tell friends who would perk up at a solid HK or Korean or whatever crime movie with big emotions and bigger gun battles. I can't really speak to the director's past work to draw upon comparison- one film by Hae-sung Song, Failan, is unavailable in the US though touted by reviewers on IMDb- but he doesn't push the material into anything very interesting. It might be commendable that the film doesn't slavishly imitate the original film, but then what else is there? Just general competency? A few cool looking characters in a gun battle or some tears shed at just the right flash of the cut of film? A Better Tomorrow 2010 most depressingly does what a good many American remakes do: takes the core ingredients, gives it a 21st century sheen... and it's generally just dull.
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6/10
Brothers / Enemies / Killers...
paul_haakonsen24 March 2013
This 2010 version of "A Better Tomorrow" is not a bad movie, but why it came into being is somewhat of a puzzle to me. Why take something that was so unique back in 1986 and then remake it in 2010? And to go even further, why go from Hong Kong to Korea? Perhaps these are questions not meant to be answered, but it does make for an alright action movie. Just don't put this Korean version up against the Cantonese version, because that is a bad mistake.

If you watch this 2010 version for a stand-alone action movie, then it is a great experience by itself. The story is driven by a good, solid storyline, though it had a tendency of being a bit jumpy and hard to keep track of who was who, unless you pay a very close attentive eye on the movie. And this is what the movie suffers under, it is a bit too skittish.

This version of the "A Better Tomorrow" storyline is driven by a heavy dramatic storyline that is focusing on brotherhood and loyalty, and that does work out quite well in favor for the movie.

Compared to the original trilogy, then the 2010 Korean version has less action and shootings in it, but it is obvious that they have focused more on the aspects of brotherhood and loyalty, rather than just hardboiled action and gunfights.

And the movie was well carried by the four actors in the lead roles; Jin-mo Ju (playing Kim Hyeok), Seung-heon Song (playing Yeong-choon), Kang-woo Kim (playing Kim Cheol) and Han Sun Jo (playing Tae Min). Thumbs up to these four guys for really adding dimension and character to the 2010 version of "A Better Tomorrow".

The 2010 Korean version of this 1986 Hong Kong classic is well worth a watch for fans of Asian action cinema. Just keep this version aside from the Hong Kong trilogy, and you'll be fine.
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good action
Jack_Coen1 January 2012
Directed by Hae-sung Song A Better Tomorrow is a remake of the 1986 film "A Better Tomorrow" by John Woo, it's a co-production between South Korea, Hong Kong and Japan.

A Better Tomorrow tells the story of Hyuk (Joo Jin-Mo), who lives the fast life as a high-ranking mobster in the port city of Busan, South Korea with his closest pal, fellow mobster Lee Young-Chun (Song Seung-Heon). Though Hyuk seems to be on top of the world, he is haunted by the memory of leaving behind his younger brother Chul (Kim Kang-Woo) and mother as they attempted to flee into South Korea from North Korea. Hyuk's mother was beaten to death while Chul was imprisoned after they were caught by North Korean authorities (plot).

I didn't saw the original one but i think this film was great in every thing, the story was very simple but the actions scenes was really cool, director Hae-sung Song shows that he is ready to play with the likes of To and Woo with this film and I hope he really grows into himself, because he can craft brutal action while make the rest of the frame dance with beauty. Overall I would say the remake of A Better Tomorrow is an awesome movie that any action lover should give it a watch.

4/5
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4/10
Unnecessary remake, and a far cry from the usual quality Korean thrillers
Leofwine_draca7 November 2015
A BETTER TOMORROW is the South Korean remake of the classic John Woo '80s Hong Kong action flick. If I'm honest, I wasn't a huge fan of the Woo original to begin with - I think the sequel's a lot more lively and entertaining - but nonetheless, I had high hopes for this remake, which I hoped would continue in the trend of fantastic South Korean thrillers. Sadly, what I got was a badly-written, overly-complex movie that seems to go on forever whilst offering the viewer very little at the same time.

The scenario is needlessly complex, weaving back and forth through time with the tale of a pair of brothers and their friends who variously betray and end up on different sides of the law. There are brief sojourns to Thailand and North Korea, but it's all very confusing and I was trying to figure out who was who for most of the running time. It doesn't help that a lot of scenes, particularly in the second half, descend into dodgy melodrama.

So what of the action? At least the Woo film had that. Sadly, A BETTER TOMORROW is a disappointment in that respect too, as there's hardly any in it. There's a good assassination scene and a couple more shoot-outs, before an admittedly decent climax, but the action feels oddly limited given the length of the running time. I'm afraid that A BETTER TOMORROW is one remake they never should have bothered going ahead with.
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10/10
Good movie
oalhaidan31 July 2018
One of my favorite movies i loved the action in it and how the brothers are standing for each other.
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4/10
A Nutshell Review: A Better Tomorrow
DICK STEEL31 December 2010
I wonder if filmmakers and their chosen cast suffer the jitters when they attempt to remake a cult classic, trying their best to recreate the formula that worked in another setting and timeline. A Better Tomorrow needs no introduction as it has elements that are deeply entrenched in the minds of any Asian cinephile, where John Woo revived the gangster genre in Hong Kong and created a phenomenon, inspiring copycats both in film and male fashion.

After all, who has the ability to recreate the Chow Yun Fat charisma as Mark Gor, with his long trenchcoat and aviator sunglasses inspiring a legion of followers to the character, so much so that he has to be brought back as twin brother Ken in A Better Tomorrow II? And 70s icon Ti Lung as co-chief protagonist around that brought about bona fide gravitas of a man betrayed, and finding true brotherhood with his best friend? Then there's the late Leslie Cheung, who goes to show that he's not out of place in an actioner, and brings out the role of the cocky young adult unwilling to forgive his brother in most excellent terms. And Waise Lee rounding up the quartet as the villain you'd love to hate especially when gloating with one of his last lines.

The Korean remake was wrong on a number of counts, especially if one were to be a purist and find objectionable character motivations, and scenes rearranged with elements tweaked that's as proportionally controversial as A New Hope's Did Han Shoot First?. The basic structure got retained where it introduced the quartet of characters, with Kim Hyuk (Joo Jin- Mo) and Kim Chul (Kim Kang-Woo) being brothers from North Korea separated when Hyuk abandoned his younger brother to escape to the South, hence setting up resentment which serves the crux of the film. Compensating for this brotherly kinship is his good friend Young- Choon (Son Seung-Heon), who finds himself going from riches to rags, a pale self to his former glory when his revenge didn't go as smooth as he planned it would be.

I don't mind that things got changed slightly, from counterfeiting to arms smuggling. I don't mind that since this is a Korean remake the plot naturally revolved around North and South tensions amongst the characters. I don't mind too that the characters' overseas romp shifted from Taiwan to Thailand. All these, coupled with the updates introduced by director Song Hae-Sung, are pretty minor. The major changes were what irked me, since they don't resemble the cult characters they are based on, especially that of Kim Chul and his estranged relationship with his brother Kim Hyuk, which bordered on thick melodrama that gave an about turn to the latter character when the finale rolled along. There's this obsession with not forgiving his brother yes, but things take an inexplicable turn which transformed him from rugged tough guy, to wimpy, weepy crybaby. What gives?

Song Seung-Heon perhaps drew the shortest end of the stick, because trying to emulate Mark Gor with his Young-Choon was nothing short of a futile attempt unfortunately. Clearly lacking the charisma to pull the role off, he tried his best and came up short, and in an unceremonious exit, I think director Song Hae-Sung has to bear the blame for some shoddy work here, even though we know the original had loopholes in the shoot out department that sort of became terms of endearment with weapons blessed with unlimited supply of bullets that always find their way to embed into bodies of faceless goons, these were opportunities that weren't seized to go one leg up before John Woo went balletic with his gun fights and shoot outs.

What worked though was how sinister Jo Han-Seon played chief villain Jung Tae-Min, whose meek demeanour hides his sinister nature and becomes the villain you'd love to hate. I thought he did well because he wasn't really trying to live up to what had already been done, though perhaps maybe it wasn't as intimidating as trying to fit into the shoes worn by Ti Lung, Leslie Cheung or Chow Yun Fat. There's also a distinct lack of female roles here to trip up this gang of four, eliminating frivolous romantic subplots where females are nothing but flower vases, allowing themes of betrayal, friendship, brotherhood and camaraderie to ring through much louder.

Still, this remake is slow to start, and it took some 30 minutes before the first major action sequence. To fans of A Better Tomorrow there's nothing here that will surprise you anyway, except to raise an eyebrow or two when motivations and subplots deviate. And if there's one more element that this film sorely lacked, it's the very, very iconic theme tune that accompanied the Hong Kong original. This one pales in comparison and somehow turned out dull for the most parts. You have been warned to stick to the definitive John Woo version.
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4/10
One of the worst movies recently
bayramsaparov25 December 2011
I am a fan of Korean movies. Or so I thought after watching some of the legendary movies like the Vengeance Trilogy, Memories of Murder etc. However, it turns out, a lot of movies from Korea are just not for my taste as well.

Usually, I find that out pretty quickly, i.e. I don't bother watching love stories and comedies for teens. But this one looked like an action packed movie a la "The Good, The Bad and The Weird". Not quite.

It was a waste of a time. I wouldn't say it was amateurish in choreography or screenplay, I'd say it was terrible in terms of its script. Movie is so annoying, unbelievable. Like you know what stupid things one brother might do, and he ends up doing all of that. Also, script writing is so poor, that all these "gangsters" look more like high school gangsters than real life ones. Tears, crying, begging, pitying each other. A bunch of pathetic girlie gangsters => similarly pathetic movie.

4/10
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4/10
There're some huge logic and unrealistic problems
AntiFakeReviews26 March 2021
So Chul, the younger brother, is the new refugee who escaped from the North Korean. But how could he so easily become a South Korean policeman so fast? Furthermore, how could a guy from the North, not only so easily become a South Korean policeman, he could also rise up in the South Korean police system and promote to a higher ranking officer so quickly? Before you can become a policeman, you must attend the police academy and graduate from it, then you would spend more years, sometimes 10 to 15 years, to become a plain-clothe detective from a uniformed regular cop. How could this movie explain such overlooked facts that exist in every government system, albeit the police force? By ignoring this, this movie simply failed at the very beginning and won't hold true in every explanable way.
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4/10
A watchable movie with a disappointing ending! 4/10
leonblackwood9 January 2016
Review: This movie seemed like it was never going to end. So much time was wasted on the younger brothers remorse towards his older brother, which ended up getting on my nerves after a while and the fact that it didn't have English dubbing, also contributed to me falling asleep halfway through the movie. Anyway, the film's about a South Korean detective, Kim Hyuk (Joo Jin-Mo), who is also an illegal arms smuggler with his partner in crime, Lee Young-Choon (Song Seung-Heon). Hyuk has a younger brother, Chul (Kim Kang-Woo), who he left behind with his mother when they defected from the North. After spending time looking for his brother, Hyuk eventually finds Chul in a internment camp but Chul resents Hyuk for leaving him behind. When Hyuk finds out that his mother died when he left them behind, he's full of guilt and he tries his utmost to get close to his brother again but Chul doesn't want anything to do with him and his criminal activities. Hyuk then goes to Thailand with a new member of there crew, Jung Tae-Min (Jo Han-Sun) but Hyuk he's double crossed by Jung and the Thai gang, which leads to a big shootout. Hyuk surrenders to the police and ends up in jail for 3 years and when Lee finds out about the double cross, he heads to Thailand to kill the gang leader who had a hand in putting his best friend in jail. During the shootout, Lee gets shot in his knee, which makes him crippled, so with his best friend in jail and Jung in control of the smuggling operation, Lee ends up on the streets washing cars. When Hyuk is released from jail, he tries to make contact with his brother Chul, who is now a police detective but he still has bad feelings towards him. He also makes contact with Lee, who wants to get back into the business to take revenge on Jung but Hyuk is determined to go straight. He becomes a taxi driver to convince his brother that he is done with the criminal world but he is constantly pushed by Jung to rejoin the operation. Chul is determined to take down Jung but he hasn't got enough evidence to put him in jail. Jung then severely beats up Lee and he threatens Chul's life so Hyuk puts together a plan to kill Jung. Chul then has a suspicious car crash which has Jung's henchmen written all over it, so Lee takes it upon himself to steal some incriminating evidence to stop the feud. They agree to exchange the evidence for a large amount of money so they can escape on a boat but Hyuk has given the evidence to the police and he ends up taking Jung as a hostage so they can escape. When Chul turns up at the exchange, the whole situation leads to a massive shootout which also leads to some fatal consequences. I really didn't like the ending of this film and the whole "feuding between the brothers" concept, became very irritating. I really liked Lee's character, before he came a cripple and the shootout at the end was realistic. The actors also showed some deep emotion throughout the movie but Hyuk seemed like a lost puppy dog through most of the film. Anyway, it's not a bad movie and the storyline is very detailed, like a lot of Oriental movies but I was slightly disappointed with the outcome. Watchable!

Round-Up: This movie was directed by Hae-Sung Song who has only directed 6, unknown movies in his career and it was written by the great John Woo, who also wrote and directed the original, A Better Tomorrow with Chow Yun-Fat. 

Budget: $8.7million Worldwide Gross: $10.7million

I recommend this movie to people who are into their action/drama movies starring Jin-Mo Ju, Seung-Heon Song, Kang-Woo Kim and Han Sun Jo. 4/10
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