A Better Tomorrow

Critics Consensus

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93%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 14

90%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 18,798
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Movie Info

John Woo established himself as one of Hong Kong's premiere action directors with this ultra-hip, ultra-violent action classic. The film centers around the complex relationship between two brothers: Sung Tse-kit (Leslie Cheung) is a recent graduate of the police academy while Tse-ho (Ti Lung) runs a massive counterfeiting ring along with his gangland associate, Mark Lee (Chow Yun-fat). Tension between the two brothers comes to a head when their father is murdered after a crime deal goes sour and Tse-ho lands in jail after being double-crossed. In perhaps the most influential scene in Hong Kong cinema in the 1980s, Mark avenges his friend by staging a dinner table assassination. As Mark tries to shoot his way out of the restaurant, pulling a series of hidden pistols from potted plants and alcoves, he gets horribly injured. With both founding members of the counterfeiting syndicate incapacitated, the operation falls into the hands of Shing (Waise Lee Chi-hung), Tse-ho's former underling who has little of his boss' élan or experience. When Tse-ho gets out of jail, he reunites with his now-crippled comrade, Mark, to take out Shing and to protect Tse-kit whose life is in danger for investigating their former subordinate. ~ Jonathan Crow, Rovi

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Critic Reviews for A Better Tomorrow

All Critics (14)

Audience Reviews for A Better Tomorrow

  • Jul 15, 2012
    Knowing it been a long time since I last saw an Asian crime drama, I decided to checkout a landmark film in the genre title A Better Tomorrow. It did not disappoint and delivers everything from a good John Woo movie. A Better Tomorrow is about brothers: one a successful counterfeiter (Lung Ti) and the younger a fledgling graduate of the HK police academy (Leslie Cheung). The plot revolves around the split when the younger brother learns the other is a criminal and the efforts of the criminal brother to reform into a normal life. The plot overall is well written capturing the struggles of the two brothers in different profession. Their relationship get most of the developments and easily the most interesting part of the plot. Though it does have some flaws, Yun-Chow Fat character seems important, but is never fully developed and only purpose is to killed people in the movie. The fast pace also works against it, sure it adds to the excitement, but it prevents the material from expanding into anything great. The casting something you don't need to worry about, whenever you got -Chow Fat and John Woo calibrating it's something good. A Better Tomorrow is a great crime drama that delivers on compelling drama and intense action. I would've end my review here, but there's a Korean remake of the same. Moo-jeok-ja (A Better Tomorrow in Korean) is slow to start, 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. It's simply to similar to the original and is not recommended for fans of the original. Considering I couldn't find the Korean remake in the RT database, I'll give it a 30% for failing to separate itself from the original source material and a bad choice of casting. A Better Tomorrow is a great crime drama from John Woo and one of his works no doubt. This is definitely worth checking out for fans of John Woo or the genre. As for the Korean, Moo-jeok-ja, should be avoided since it's more of the same with a lack of new ideas.
    Caesar M Super Reviewer
  • Jan 12, 2012
    Welcome to the miraculous beginning of the "heroic bloodshed" sensation! Chow Yun-Fat and Leslie Cheung are transformed into multi-layered action stars thanks to Woo's extremely influential action vision and his editing brilliance. Ying hung boon sik is truly the legitimate father of any Internal Affairs and similar hybrids. A must for any action fan! 89/100
    Edgar C Super Reviewer
  • Jan 05, 2012
    My first look at early John Woo. This is great action.
    John B Super Reviewer
  • May 23, 2010
    Cheesy soundtrack, cheesy acting, cheesy story... no this didn't work for me. The firework shooting scenes were the best bit, with Chow Yun Fat coming in a close second, and everything else dragging itself over the finishing line a poor third.
    Lesley N Super Reviewer

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