A Better Tomorrow - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

A Better Tomorrow Reviews

Page 1 of 42
September 26, 2017
viewed on 2/10/04 (Sun)

There are three moments in the movie that I cried. It is unbelievable. This is a, at heart, mob movie, you know, that kind which always being accused of glamourising triads.

But that is just the background of John Woo's moving story about an underdog seeking forgiveness, redemption and revenge.

Back to the three moments. First one. Ti Lung's Song Zi Hao meets Chow Yun Fat's Mark after being released from prison. Mark has been reduced to a very sorry state, eating his packet rice at a corner of a carpark. Zi Hao walks up to Mark and says,"This is not what you said in the letter." I choked on my tears already.

Second one. Zi Hao is cornered by his own brother, Leslie's Zi Jie, at the back alley. He insists his older brother on calling him 'Ah Sir' and not by his name. When Zi Jie accuses Zi Hao of going back to secret society, he turns around and brokenheartedly says, "Ah Sir. I have not been a Dai Gor for a long time."

Third one. Mark asks Zi Jie angrily,"If your brother has the courage to change, why can't you have the courage to accept him?" Well-said! I cried again.

A BETTER TOMORROW remains a very endearing movie to me. The main plot is simple but the performances are top-notch. Any lesser actors will make the drama feel amateurish. If you notice, the development of the story is rather clever. One thing leads to another without feeling forced or incredible. The ending is satisfactory. It somehow strikes everything at the right places. The main audience will like it and the critics will be impressed by the smaller details.

I saw the trailer when I rented John Woo's earlier movie, PLAIN JANE TO THE RESCUE. Thanks goodness, he did not continue to go lower than that but emerges to be one of the best HK directors. Many remember fondly of A BETTER TOMORROW. One female colleague of mine can still remember the touching moments. So did my friend, Alan. It has to be everyone's favourite.

Some trivia. Chow Yun Fat was chosen for the role because he did not look like an action hero. Surprisingly, he established himself successfully as one after this even till this day. Back then, Chow Yun Fat was popular on TV but his movies were flops. Prodcuers were even worried that the casting of Chow Yun Fat would affect the box office returns. Of course, that did not happen and in fact the movie remained as the top box office hit for 7 years!

Rating: A
December 9, 2016
One of the best John Woo ever!
April 25, 2016
A Better Tomorrow (1986) ???
Tense, bloody, high-octane action thriller about an ex-gangster who tries to go straight from crime and also fix things up between his policeman brother. Unfortunately, the ties to his former gang are difficult to break. Inspired characterizations and extremely dynamic action sequences make this a fun romp, however this is not up to par with director John Woo's best Hong-Kong efforts (THE KILLER, HARD BOILED, etc). Yun-Fat Chow, who stars in many of the director's films, is excellent here.
January 18, 2016
This. This is how you make an action movie. John Woo's magnum opus, and easily one of the greatest films to ever come out of Hong Kong.
January 2, 2016
It's been years since I've seen this movie and I must admit, I didn't really enjoy it that much this time. Back in the day, I found John Woo's gun action quite amazing but after watching so many movies that have copied his style, it seems quite mediocre for this day and age. On top of that, the music throughout the movie was awful but the storyline made it quite an enjoyable watch. Anyway, best friends Sung Tse-Ho (Ti Lung) and Mark Lee (Chow Yun Fat), work for a triad gang who distribute counterfeit US bank notes. As Ho's brother is training to become a police officer, he keeps his criminal life secret but his sick dad is aware of his criminal activities and he keeps on asking him to go straight. He then takes on one last job in Taiwan but it turns out to be a trap and Ho and his new apprentice have to shoot there way out of an impossible situation. With the police hot on there tail, they go into hiding and a gang member attempts to kidnap Ho's dad to ensure his silence but when Ho's brother, Kit, tries to save his dad and his girlfriend, his dad gets shot and pleas with Kit to forgive his brother. Ho then surrenders to the police and goes to jail and when Mark hears about the gang who tried to trap Ho, he kills the leading Taiwanese gang member but he gets shot in his leg which leaves him crippled. After 3 years behind bars, Ho is released from prison and he attempts to go straight by becoming a driver for a taxi company. His brother, Kit, blames Ho for there father's death, so he doesn't want anything to do with him, especially as he wants to become a police officer and his brother is a ex-con. When Ho bumps in Mark, he's shocked to see that he has become an errand boy for the new head of the triads, Shing. Mark wants to get back there reputation by taking out Shing but Ho wants to go straight to try and get closer to his brother. Shing also tries to get Ho to come back to the organisation but when he turns down his offer, he uses brutal tactics by beating up Mark, attacking Ho's co-workers and luring Kit into a trap. After a passionate speech from Mark, Ho decides to take revenge on Shing and they put together a plan to steal a tape that will destroy there organisation. When Shing finds out about the missing tape they strike a deal to swap Kit for the incriminating tape but Shing's henchmen are close by, so Ho, Mark & Kit end up fighting for there life's whilst trying to take-out Shing. John Woo's storylines are always intense and never straight forward. I'm not surprised that it takes him so long to release a film! Anyway, the action seemed a bit messy at times but I liked it when Chow Yun-Fat was in his "one man army" mode. Ho's brother, Kit, did get on my nerves after a while but I liked the chemistry between Ho and Mark. There were a few emotional scenes and the complex storyline was well put together but I was hoping for some more action. Its still a decent film and definitely worth a watch if your into your John Woo movies. Watchable!

This is John Woo's first movie which brought his name to light across the globe, even though it was full of subtitles. This also brought Chow Yun-Fat, 60, to an international market because of his brilliant performance and his cool persona. With over 100 movie to his name, which include Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, Bulletproof Monk, the international acclaimed Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon and Anna and the King he's definitely a unique actor who doesn't get the recognition that he deserves. John Woo and Chow Yun-Fat always bring something special to the big screen and I'm looking forward to seeing more of there movies during my Oriental movie season.

I recommend this movie to people who are into their action/crime/drama's starring Chow Yun-Fat, Lung Ti, Leslie Cheung, Waise Lee and Emily Chu. 4/10
November 19, 2015
This movie is my favorite movie in my life ever!
½ June 11, 2015
Blending Shakespearean tragedy with extreme ultraviolence this John Woo directed action-drama is pure entertainment with great performances all around and a story that will suprisely move you to tears. Probably one of the greatest action movies from the east. 4.5 out of 5 stars.
June 3, 2015
This film is like listening to a dark symphony music with aggressiveness and dramatic proportions. Dramatic and I have seen that a lot in here. This is a very well executed John Woo film to start with. I love the performances. Chow Yun Fat, Lun Ti and Leslie Chung. They are easily lovable with amazing acting. Maybe has cheesy moments, yet it has a good execution story wise. Pretty authentic gun fight scenes from it's time. To me, it is one memorable HK action drama. Very recommended. Have you guys seen it?4/5
January 28, 2015
This film is like listening to a dark symphony music with aggressiveness and dramatic proportions. Dramatic and I have seen that a lot in here. This is a very well executed John Woo film to start with. I love the performances. Chow Yun Fat, Lun Ti and Leslie Chung. They are easily lovable with amazing acting. Maybe has cheesy moments, yet it has a good execution story wise. Pretty authentic gun fight scenes from it's time. To me, it is one memorable HK action drama. Very recommended. Have you guys seen it?4/5
½ January 16, 2015
I discovered John Woo back in the early 1990s as Hong Kong Cinema broke into the US arthouse/cult theatres (with Jacky Chan leading the way). Woo's films were all about slow-motion bullets flying between stoic guys on either side of the law who nevertheless identified with each other and felt deep loyal (even sentimental) emotions for their friends/family and sometimes foes (all men - women are sidelined here). Although his work would come to fruition with The Killer and Hard-Boiled, A Better Tomorrow was his first big hit (produced by Tsui Hark who has a funny cameo here). Set in the world of the HK Triads, the film stars Ti Lung as a key deputy in a counterfeiting ring with a younger brother (Leslie Cheung) who is a cop on the rise and a best friend (Chow Yun-Fat) who is the gang's top gunman. When Ti finally gets caught and thrown in a Taiwan prison, he decides to go straight to honor his father's wishes and to make good with his brother. Of course, the gang won't let him and his ties to Chow (who has fallen in stature within the gang but wants to stay in - or to compete) make this harder. Woo controls the tempo expertly, mixing huge close-ups that heighten the emotional intensity with bloody shoot-outs set to pulsing music - and we feel the impact of the things to happen to these guys. The 80s clothes and cinematography (complete with Woo's eye for color and composition) and occasional cheesy music somehow enhance the tension between sentimentality and violence. But it is the characterizations by Ti and Chow (and to a lesser extent Cheung), stoic yet sentimental, that really draw you in - with Woo's expert guidance.
Super Reviewer
January 1, 2015
I was lucky to experience the 2 best movies with the cool Chow Yun Fat a few weeks back ,, The Killer and Hardboiled. And after those i searched after more of his successful flicks and found the "A better tomorrow trilogy" .. This is 80's at its best and the beginning for the "gun fu genre" (close-quarters gunplay) . I seriously doubted this movie could match Killer or Hardboiled and it didn't of course but this is a great action movie nevertheless. It focus more on the story rather than pure action scenes and begins kinda slow at first i felt but going at the right direction towards the end. Chow Yun Fat doesn't have the main role either but the rest of the cast are amazing aswell like the late "Leslie Cheung". Overall a great hong kong flick and now i will watch the sequels and that will be a pleasure.
December 27, 2014
The movie that kick started John Woo's career
½ October 6, 2014
What makes A Better Tomorrow so great? The cast is absolutely brilliant. Legendary kung fu/sword film star Ti Lung proves his fine dramatic range with an excellent performance as a Ho, a gangster trying to change his ways after his father's brutal murder, and trying to prove to his younger brother he's sorry. His brother Kit is played by the tragic Leslie Cheung, and he gives the role a sad intensity that brings the drama to life. What an incredible scene when Kit sees Ho for the first time after their father's death standing in the rain, and proceeds to attack him. It's hard to remember just how great the aforementioned two actors are in this film because of Chow Yun Fat's film stealing performance. As the charismatic, gunslingin' Mark, Yun Fat became the biggest star in Hong Kong cinema. His dark trench coat sporting, sunglasses wearing, akimbo berretta ways have influenced modern action cinema to no end, and continue to do so even now. Mark's two-fisted assault on the restaurant is still the greatest gun action scene ever. Here's an incredible action movie, with outstanding performances, searing drama, and way over the top action scenes. What more do you want?
September 6, 2014
its one of my fav movies all the time definitely
gun-actions are not look aged,great friendship between guys
i know the director John woo intended remove females in the movie
its not coz of gay,he thinks guys friendship is more important than romance in almost all his movies
its like japanese yakuza movies too.
and merodramatic bgm is great for the movie
even there are some plot holes but that doesnt matter
½ July 28, 2014
Classic stuff. 'Nuff said.
July 15, 2014
I had already fallen in love with Chow Yun Fat from seeing the incredible Hard Boiled, Full Contact, The Killer and many others back in the early 90's. So I was quite late in seeing the film that really helped launch him as the heroic bloodshed action star!

An absolute gem of a film that will always be remembered and loved by many fans of Asian (and non-Asian) films. From the first time I watched it, right up until the last, A Better Tomorrow stands proud as a classic piece of entertainment. Action packed, fun, gritty and beautifully directed - this film is recognized as the one that put Chow Yun Fat on the action map, and it's easy to see why...

His stunning performance as 'Mark' gave cinema one of its most memorable characters, which paved the way for a collection of tributes and spoofs from other HK film-makers that still runs to this day. The awesome Ti Lung (I find) doesn't usually receive the same amount of credit for his role, yet plays his part flawlessly, delivering beautiful action to lump-in-the-throat drama, as he carries the story between his best friend (Mark) and his brother, played by the late, Leslie Cheung.

At first, I wasn't too keen on Leslie Cheung as Kit - but after warming to him in other movies, and repeated viewings of ABT you soon see that Woo and Hark made the right choice in putting these 3 together on- screen. This is, without a doubt, one of John Woo's finest moments, and one of my all time favorite movies.

It should be one of yours too!
½ July 4, 2014
An excellent early film from John Woo, deals with a lot of the same themes that his other Hong Kong films have with underground gangsters, betrayals, corruption, and chaotic violence. I'd say his later films like The Killer and Hard Boiled were more polished, but this one is still impressive.
April 18, 2014
Stylistically this movie moves and the written content isn't overly cheesy but can get annoying.
½ February 11, 2014
I was bored out of my ever lovin mind! I didn't care if you blew any of the characters away! Hell the film was so bad I was hoping someone would put me out of my misery and blow me away!

The last act picked up and events moved me... so much so I had a Grinch in WOO-ville moment! My critic's heart grew 3 times larger! Then the true meaning of this boring remake became quite clear!

Nobody Does It Better Than Mr. JOHN WOO! If you watch a silly remake the Shame's On You!
½ January 15, 2014
Page 1 of 42