Better Luck Tomorrow 2002

Better Luck Tomorrow

Critics Consensus

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

81%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 106

79%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 8,304

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Movie Info

An accomplished high school student, Ben (Parry Shen) seems to excel at almost everything except winning over his dream girl, Stephanie (Karin Anna Cheung). When he begins an unlikely friendship with trouble-seeking tough guy Daric (Roger Fan), Ben becomes involved in petty crime that gets increasingly dangerous, with his various illegal ventures extending to include Stephanie and her wealthy beau, Steve (John Cho). Can these restless teens curb their criminal activities before it's too late?

Cast & Crew

Parry Shen
Ben Manibag
Sung Kang
Han
Roger Fan
Daric Loo
John Cho
Steve Choe
Jerry Mathers
Biology Teacher
Joan Huang
Co-Producer
Steve Herr
Associate Producer
Sung Kang
Associate Producer
Patrice Lucien Cochet
Director of Photography
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News & Interviews for Better Luck Tomorrow

Critic Reviews for Better Luck Tomorrow

All Critics (106) | Top Critics (40) | Fresh (86) | Rotten (20)

  • Lin's movie tries to do too much--it takes some dark, credibility-defying turns--but you come away knowing you've witnessed the birth of a moviemaking career.

    March 7, 2018 | Full Review…

    David Ansen

    Newsweek
    Top Critic
  • 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.

    April 2, 2013 | Full Review…
  • Better Luck Tomorrow breathes new life into a familiar story: coming of age in high school.

    April 2, 2013 | Full Review…
  • A enerally absorbing look at a slice of society normally taken for granted, both in life and onscreen.

    July 6, 2010

    Todd McCarthy

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

    June 24, 2006 | Full Review…
    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • MTV (which bought this movie out of Sundance) believes the target audience to be high school and college students. I would argue that it's anyone in search of a well-made, thought-provoking motion picture.

    April 26, 2003 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Better Luck Tomorrow

  • Mar 22, 2014
    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 P Super Reviewer
  • May 13, 2011
    A very well made independent movie about what rich, gifted Asian teens do when life simply gets too boring for them. It is gripping and edgy and features very good performances and a glimpse in to a lifestyle most of us can simply dream of.
    Ian W Super Reviewer
  • Oct 10, 2010
    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.
    paul s Super Reviewer
  • Dec 21, 2009
    Featuring a big influence from Scorsese, nods to Kids and The Basketball Diaries, and a refreshing take on familiarity, Justin Lin's debut Better Luck Tomorrow is an engaging, biting, satirical social commentary that is unforgettable and truly amazing. The style, which features speed changes, a mix of editing techniques, and 5 acts (instead of 3), perfectly captures both the influence of who is behind the film, and the target audience (which happen to be connected one another). The way the film begins to get dark is great, especially because of the brilliantly employed subtlety. Lin showed so much promise with this film that it is disheartenening to see where his career has gone in the past 6-7 years. He needs to go back to movies like this, and quick.
    Chris W Super Reviewer

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