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#16. A Better Tomorrow - Review

A Better Tomorrow Criterion Collection A Better Tomorrow is melodrama in its purest, most violent exemplification. Far from being a great film, John Woo’s tale of two brothers on opposite sides of the law reeks of the 1980’s, but that is probably why I loved it so much. It has heart like very few action movies have the nerve to show. Underneath all the blood and slo-mo shootouts, is a love story between two best friends (Chow Yun-Fat and Lung Ti), willing to kill and die for each other, and it is their plot line that is most intriguing. These men are so completely devoted to each other, have such affection for one another, that it made some of the younger kids (18-21) in the audience uncomfortable. They had to resort to laughter to break the tension, because although not homosexual, these vicious gangsters are very much in love.

A brother’s love does not come so easy it seems. With family comes history and baggage. Unlike friends, brothers do not have the privilege of choice. A blood tie cannot be undone, no matter how much hate and judgment poisons the relationship. Themes of responsibility to family and friend alike run on the surface of this film, and are successful at making its point.Chow Yun-Fat in A Better Tomorrow

Ultimately this film wants to be an action film more than a melodrama, and fortunately the bullets only added to my enjoyment. This is the film that really introduced Chow Yun-Fat to the world. He is not only a badass, but he is cool as ice. He chews the scenery like Bill the Butcher and takes full advantage of every moment in the film. The famous twin-handgun hallway shootout is just one of many radical action set-pieces in which Fat dominates the screen.

I am completely ignorant to Woo’s Hong Kong films, having only seen Face Off, Mission Impossible 2, and the terrible Windtalkers. I am filling my queue with his earlier works now, and I can only assume the director built off the awesome base he started with A Better Tomorrow and went on to direct some wicked action flicks. I will let you know when they show up in the mail.

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