Better Luck Tomorrow - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Better Luck Tomorrow Reviews

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½ May 28, 2012
This is one of my all time favorite movies. I loved the characters, the cinematography, the story. I also loved the whole cast, especially since you don't see a lot of movies with all asian casts. This was a very well crafted movie, I especially liked the use of the SAT words.
½ May 16, 2012
Intriguing social commentary about a group of capable driven asian-american high-school students who seem to "have it all", and yet lack everything.
½ May 10, 2012
Drab representation of a bright American subculture, but it suffers from underdeveloped characters.
February 12, 2012
Great story and plot line. As an Asian American, I felt a real connection with all the characters in the film. No one but other Asian Americans would get this film the way it was intended to be. This is one of the darkest films I have ever seen, though the ending was a bit cliche and sappy. One of the best high school films ever.
½ February 7, 2012
"Better Luck Tomorrow" 10 Scale Rating: 7.0 (Good) ...

A group of bored Asian high school students venture into a life of petty crime and get hooked on it. Starting with selling the answers to tests, they eventually degenerate into theft, drugs, violence and murder.

Well done. I was intrigued from start to finish and while the ending was a little weak, I was not disappointed. Part crime film, part high school film you are easily drawn into the plot and can't help but want to see the outcome. You can also tell from the first ten minutes that this was all going to end very badly for them. Heh.

Early on, it was hard to get into a few of the characters ... but they come around. Aside from John Cho, there are no recognizable names and it was refreshing to see new faces in a film.

"Better Luck Tomorrow" shows us that you don't need a massive budget to make a decent film.
½ February 7, 2012
"Better Luck Tomorrow" 10 Scale Rating: 7.0 (Good) ...

A group of bored Asian high school students venture into a life of petty crime and get hooked on it. Starting with selling the answers to tests, they eventually degenerate into theft, drugs, violence and murder.

Well done. I was intrigued from start to finish and while the ending was a little weak, I was not disappointed. Part crime film, part high school film you are easily drawn into the plot and can't help but want to see the outcome. You can also tell from the first ten minutes that this was all going to end very badly for them. Heh.

Early on, it was hard to get into a few of the characters ... but they come around. Aside from John Cho, there are no recognizable names and it was refreshing to see new faces in a film.

"Better Luck Tomorrow" shows us that you don't need a massive budget to make a decent film.
January 30, 2012
One of his best thus far!!!!
January 21, 2012
puts mainstream hollywood 'coming-of-age teenage' flicks to shame.
½ January 16, 2012
I still love this one and wish Justin would get back to making stuff with more substance like this. It's still the best film I've seen that's from and about Asian Americans. The only downer here is the piss poor performance from the female lead.
½ January 10, 2012
I Think I Knew Those Guys

Okay, here's the part I don't understand. It's not that straight-A students might be interested in breaking out of the little world they're assumed to be in. One of my friends from high school (well, friend may be too strong a word) was Thai and apparently convinced the people he went to college with that he was Chinese. It's not that this might lead to a life of crime. There are plenty of stories available about that possibility. Nonfiction, even. It's certainly not that a group of kids who are of at least three ethnic backgrounds would get lumped together as "the Chinese mafia." (I can tell based on the last names that we've got at least Chinese and Korean kids involved, and no one seems to know what kind of name "Manibag" is.) No, what confuses me is what competition they're actually participating in. They say it's Academic Decathlon, but I've participated in AD myself and have the medals to prove it, and what they're doing doesn't even resemble Decathlon.

Ben Manibag (Parry Shen) is a straight-A student. He participates in extracurricular activities because they'll look good on his college applications. He practices free throws to get above the NBA record, but he doesn't do it under the pressure of a game. He joins the JV basketball team, but when Daric Loo (Roger Fan) writes an article in the school paper claiming that Ben is a token who is never allowed to play, Ben quits in disgust. And somehow, I missed how, he, Daric, Virgil Hu (Jason Tobin), and Steve Choe (John Cho) end up in shady criminal enterprises involving drug dealing. This largely seems to be because they're bored and don't get any excitement out of school. They all know they're going to college and don't much seem to care where. Ben is in love with Stephanie Vandergosh (Karin Anna Cheung), who is going out with Steve, and Steve seems to loan her to Ben to cement the deal. And because Ben will go to school stuff and Steve doesn't want to. And somehow, everything falls apart.

This is, of course, not too different from last night's selection. Once again, we are dealing with people in way over their heads, experiencing consequences they are completely unprepared to handle. In some ways, the fact that these guys are so much smarter than the suicide bombers of [i]Four Lions[/i] makes things worse, because they're still young enough and inexperienced enough so they think there's really only one kind of smart. Acing your biology class (taught by Jerry Mathers!) doesn't prepare you for working with drug dealers. Just because you can get into an Ivy League school doesn't mean you know how to--and I'm not giving spoilers, because we find this out in the opening scene--dispose of a body. One of the things life has taught me is that there are many ways of being smart--and many ways of being dumb. Stephanie says, toward the end, that sometimes you make decisions as a consequence of having made other decisions, until you don't remember how it all started. And Ben knows exactly what she means.

So is there a reason all these kids are Asian? Well, there's the obvious one that the writer/director was born in Taipei. I would suspect that Justin Lin knows no little about the Asian-American experience. And if the high school in this movie is like mine, there is a certain bonding just because of Asian ethnicity without too much fuss about national heritage. Said guy pretending to be Chinese from my high school had a best friend back then who actually was. The other Thai kid in our class was best friends with a Filipino girl. But they were all Asian, and there was a sense of unity from that. Especially given how they all shared from the immigrant experience. My friends' parents expected them to get good grades and participate in extracurricular activities so they could get into good colleges, and, as with these characters, they could get away with a lot provided they did those two things. Though I think none of them got away with quite this.

This movie isn't any kind of groundbreaking, but I don't think it has to be. I think people expect it to be because it's got nothing but Asians as main characters, but it's really just another teen drama. Smart Kid Goes Bad is a common theme, after all. But somehow, we think that any movie starring Asians or Hispanics or blacks has to be what it's about to be Asian or Hispanic or black. But Stephanie, after all, is adopted. Her experience is different because of that. We don't know how many generations any of the families have been in the US. I can deduce that someone named Takashi is Japanese and someone named Hu is Chinese, but perhaps the reason Ben's last name is one no one seems able to place is that we're not intended to be considering him as Chinese or Japanese or Korean. He's Generic Asian-American, and at least part of his issue is that he sees himself as more the latter while those around him still see him as more the former.
January 8, 2012
I love the premise and the tone of the film. However, the end doesn't justify the means enough to make this a truly great indie.
December 26, 2011
Justin Lin puts together a unique crime-drama viewing a group of promising Asian students in their double lives as amateur criminals, offering some stimulating underlying statements about a considerable chunk of teens.
December 25, 2011
Warming, strange, charming, and then turns instantly discomforting and disturbing somehow seamlessly. All in all, it works for those expecting a normal high school comedy/drama (involving asian americans), but digs deep within underworld crime and undeniable motifs I've never before seen in film.
November 29, 2011
so slick and dark...and they're asian americans!
½ November 2, 2011
It was a pretty good movie. The dark twist at the end with no real resolution was kind of a downer but still decert.
Super Reviewer
October 5, 2011
This movie sounds legitimately interesting.
September 5, 2011
Oh, I just really liked this! There's something very David Lynch about it, and something noirish, too. It's stylish - you can see why Justin Lin's gone on to direct the blockbusters.
½ August 4, 2011
Et voila comment on realise une chronique de jeunesse sans cliches, ni pathos, avec une realisation branchee ( et un peu saoulante vers une heure de film ) et des acteurs excellents, PARRY SHEN en tete.
July 18, 2011
I love the premise and the tone of the film. However, the end doesn't justify the means enough to make this a truly great indie.
½ June 2, 2011
an independent film thats actually very good. Very rare find... A
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