A Better Tomorrow (1986)
Reviewed by: dragyn on 2001-03-04
Summary: Iconic Mobsters & Rivers Of Blood
"A Better Tomorrow" is a ground-breaking, genre defining gangster movie, made by the master of violence: Hong Kong action director John Woo.

The story is, in itself, relatively simple; it's not even particularly original. It's the age-old tale of feuding brothers; in this case, Kit (Leslie Cheung) is a policeman, and Ho (Ti Lung) is a gangster.

But don't worry too much about the story; it's not the story that matters. What matters is the way Woo skillfully reveals that story little by little, through his tremendous, unforgettable characters, until every tired cliche has impact.

And the most unforgettable character of all is Mark Gor (Chow Yun-Fat), a mobster who is also Ho's best friend. He doesn't have the most screen time, but the image that remianed in the mind of all Hong Kong after "A Better Tomorrow" was released, was undoubtably Mark Gor; Mark Go, blazing across the screen in Woo's soon-to-be trademark slo-mo, surrounded by a haze of bullets, with a gun in each hand and a matchstick between his teeth. He was the hero of heroes; Hong Kong had never seen anything like it, and the younger generation responded by getting matchsticks and shades and trecnhcoats of their own.

And I haven't even started on the action yet. Woo's action defies every rule applied to on-screen violence, and is only better for it. He uses slo-mo to devstating effect, and doesn't spare us the mind-numbing detail either. His violece is far more beautiful than it is possible to believe mere violence ever could be; possibly this is brought about by the fact that not one bullet that is fired, not one drop of blood that is spilled, and not one splintered bone appears on the screen without an incredibly strong underlying emotional impact. In fact, it is even feasible to go as far as to say that Woo's violence has a strong anti-violence message behind it.

I rate "A Better Tomorrow": 9/10
I'm very loathed to give ANYTHING a 10.
Reviewer Score: 9