Better Luck Tomorrow (2002)

TOMATOMETER

AUDIENCE SCORE

Critic Consensus: A promising work by Lin, the energetic Better Luck Tomorrow is disturbing and thought-provoking.


Movie Info

A group of unlikely high school students take up crime as an extracurricular activity in this independent drama. Ben (Parry Shen) is a 16-year-old high school student who is the living embodiment of the stereotypical Asian overachiever. Ben obsessively studies even though he gets straight A's, takes part in a dizzying variety of school activities and community volunteer work, which he thinks will look good on his resume to colleges, and is even a member of the basketball team, even though he … More

Rating: R (adult situations/language, violence)
Genre: Drama, Action & Adventure
Directed By:
Written By: Justin Lin, Fabian Marquez, Ernesto M. Foronda
In Theaters:
On DVD: Sep 30, 2003
Box Office: $3.7M
Runtime:
MTV Films - Official Site

Cast


as Daric

as Steve

as Biology Teacher

as Tracy

as Hot Dog Planet Custo...

as Housewife

as Toddler

as Cheerleader

as Cheerleader

as Cheerleader

as Cheerleader

as Cheerleader

as Jesus Navarro

as Gina Nabham

as Mr. Farmer

as Hospital Patient

as Basketball Player

as Basketball Player

as Basketball Player

as Basketball Player

as Basketball Player

as Basketball Player

as Basketball Player

as Basketball Player

as Basketball Player

as Basketball Player

as Basketball Player

as Basketball Player

as Basketball Player

as Basketball Player

as Basketball Coach

as Assistant Basketball...

as Kenny Vandergosh

as Miriam

as Tina

as Adam/New Year's Part...

as Student Buying Cheat...

as Steve's Decathlon Te...

as Steve's Decathlon Te...

as Steve's Decathlon Te...

as Steve's Decathlon Te...

as Steve's Decathlon Te...

as Steve's Decathlon Te...

as Liquor Store Clerk

as Gangster

as Gangster

as Gangster

as Scared Student

as Assistant Vice Princ...

as Assistant Vice Princ...

as History Teacher

as Security Guard

as Student Buying Drugs

as Ben's Admirer

as Slapper

as Slapper's Boyfriend

as Salesgirl

as Casino Security Guar...

as New Year's Party Ban...

as New Year's Party Ban...

as New Year's Party Ban...

as New Year's Party Ban...

as New Year's Party Ban...

as New Year's Party Fli...
Show More Cast

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Critic Reviews for Better Luck Tomorrow

All Critics (103) | Top Critics (39)

Better Luck Tomorrow, a corrosive, insightful study of the pressure-packed lives of suburban high school students, brings a new variant to gangster movies: gangsters with perfect SAT scores.

Full Review… | April 2, 2013
Associated Press
Top Critic

Better Luck Tomorrow breathes new life into a familiar story: coming of age in high school.

Full Review… | April 2, 2013
Wall Street Journal
Top Critic

A enerally absorbing look at a slice of society normally taken for granted, both in life and onscreen.

Full Review… | July 6, 2010
Variety
Top Critic

Spends more time avoiding Asian-American stereotypes than it does making sense of its characters and plot.

Full Review… | June 24, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

Justin Lin succeeds in shocking audiences with a story that breaks the mold...

Full Review… | April 29, 2009
Cinema Crazed

Intriguing but dramatically thin.

Full Review… | August 7, 2008
Sacramento News & Review

Audience Reviews for Better Luck Tomorrow

½

This was Justin Lin's first time directing a feature alone, and I must say, "Better Luck Tomorrow" has some of the most genius camerawork and editing techniques that I have seen in a long time. As we follow Ben and his friends as they are nearing the end of high school, they are succumbed to the evil underground dealing and stealing. With just the right amount of characterization, the cast in this film pull off performances that feel more real than anything. Sung Kang plays the role of Han (one of Ben's friends), and it is obvious that Justin Lin planned to bring his character (with a few tweaks mind you) into the "Fas & Furious" franchise. Hard decisions are made by the characters throughout the film and the tone will make you feel sick to your stomach at times, but it will all be worth it. This is probably one of the best independent films of the 2000's for sure. I loved it!

KJ Proulx
KJ Proulx

Super Reviewer

Now this is how you make an independent movie! Completely original, trippy, and clever satire about Asian kids who can get away with anything as long as it looks like they've conformed to society's general stereotypes of their race.
Director Justin Lin has a master's command of the camera and the story he's telling. He also allows his actors to look like true movie stars, even though most of the audience may have never seem them before (except for John Cho). It just sucks that now, eight years after this movie's initial release, Lin has become a corporate tool making godawful Fast and Furious movies. The soul behind Better Luck Tomorrow is the soul of a true auteur.

MovieGeek13
Edward Boxler

Super Reviewer

½

As the first film by director Lin, the title could be used for his next film, as this film shows that he has promise, but is still a bit rough around the edges.

The film takes us inside the Asian community, showing us a group of smart Asian high school kids who know the drill of grades = college = success, but are bored and not challenged by our current sad state of education.

The main charactor is slowly brought into a web of crime, first by getting paid for creating cheat sheets, and then later getting into larcenty and finally, as things escalate and the Asian "gang of four's" reputation grows, into narcotics.

At the center of the film is an Asian cheerleader who is dating Jon Cho (Sulu in the Trek remake). Cho, who disperses drugs and wisdom to the main charactor, for some reason (never fully explained) abhors all the high school melodrama, so coerces the main charactor into taking the cheerleader to a dance. It's obvious that the main charactor and the cheerleader have feelings for each other, and yet, again unexplained, the cheerleader seems somehow bound to Cho.

The plot ramps up and there's an interesting twist (which could have been presented better) and then a final resolution that leaves several plates still spinning (kind of like life).

Throughout the film there are several cinematic camera tricks, which hit the mark about half the time (and are annoying the other half), and overall the performances of the cast are good, though I thought that the cheerleader's portrayal was a bit uneven, perhaps due to the script that had her alternatevely playing hot and cold.

The film also includes a trip to Vegas, which, while I found amusing, I also felt was totally superflous to the plot and felt tacked on (as if "hey, we need another ten minutes of film time"). I also found the Vegas scenes with the four amigos at the gaming tables to be absurd - Only one of the four could possibly pass for 21, so the scene rang very false.

Yet, for the intelligent expose into teen life, and perhaps for a look behind the curtain at those 4.0 GPA Asians, this film was worth watching.

maxthesax
paul sandberg

Super Reviewer

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