Ying hung boon sik II a.k.a. A Better Tomorrow II (1987): Breakdown by Rantbo
More Gangsters, More Guns, More Bullets, More Blood—Same Amount Of Credits.
The magical ballet of bullets and brotherhood continues in John Woo’s sequel to his heroic bloodshed masterpiece, A BETTER TOMORROW. A BETTER TOMORROW II picks up roughly a couple years after the events of part one, and our surviving hero, Ho, is busy repaying his debt to society in prison for killing off all of Hong Kong’s criminals and leaving the police with nothing to do.
But, with the absence of his gun-wielding talents out on the streets, it only takes a couple dozen months for the scum to re-assemble and the police to buckle under the pressure of stopping it. So, Ho is asked by Interpol to go undercover and investigate his old mentor in an effort to gain information on a new large scale counterfeiting operation in Hong Kong. Initially he refuses, but then thinks better of it, as watching him rot in jail would make for a boring Action movie. Oh, and his brother, Kit The Cop, is a pussy and needs protection from the big mean criminals. Along the way the god machine intervenes and delivers a ‘resurrected’ Chow Yun-Fat and folds some crazy old guy into the fray for a fan service action dish best served with a kevlar vest.
The movie is self-referential and as such it loses a lot of the saga’s gritty feel. Which is a real double-edged sword for me. BT2 is bad in that most of the story revolves around post modern nods to the phenomenal success of part one, yet awesome in that it’s paying homage to the fans of a fucking great movie.
To relate my feelings to another set of films, A BETTER TOMORROW II is to A BETTER TOMORROW like SCREAM 2 is to SCREAM. They got the movie perfect the first time, but the fan’s clamor for an encore with flaming one-hundred dollar bills was just too enticing to not trout out the .45’s and play a swan song in blood. So, instead of trying to one-up the first film’s story, they decided to make a funny fan service film. Which in my opinion, is an almost completely ass idea, except for the fact that John Woo brings the fucker home with one of the most extremely badass shootouts of all fucking time.
Even Woo himself appears to feel this way, as he has allegedly disowned everything but the finale, blaming the limp-wristed camp joke-fest story on his long-time collaborator, Tsui Hark. And after watching A BETTER TOMORROW III, I believe it.
So, all-in-all, BT2 is bittersweet to me. It’s almost impossible to not find Chow charming to the point of wanton male comradely and the action once again, is pure magic. All the surviving characters (and one of the dead ones) return, the story furthers the amazing underground Chinese gangster mythology and you get to watch almost 200 people get shot the fuck up in both slick slow-motion and gratuitous mass-massacre real-time.
Unless you’re a real movie-snob prick like me, there isn’t much more you could ask for than that. And I never had to, as Woo went on the make THE KILLER and HARD BOILED, which will forever make him the greatest Action Director of All Time.
Even after PAYCHECK.
[HOW BAD-ASS ARE THE MAIN CHARACTERS?]
Ti Lung is Sung Tse-Ho:
Ever the dependable bro, Ho makes it his life goal to protect his loved ones, at the expense of any personal life. Which he is terrible at. Everyone he cares about ends up completely fucked, dead or partially fucked and dying. But he gets an A for Affort. Now, I’m not sure how Hong Kong prisons are run, but Ho seems to have not only retained his firearm skills, but has somehow improved them. I guess those long hours in the penitentiary court yard target shooting, really paid off, as Ho is a god damned maniac with a .45.
Leslie Chung is Sung Tse-Kit:
Still a stubborn little bitch. But, thankfully, not really a whiny one anymore. Over the last couple years he seems to have completely forgiven his older brother for being so much more badass than him and the two genuinely care for and protect one-another. Kit even manages to bust up a money-deal gone bad, by taking after his older bro and busting a few caps in some criminal bitches.
Dean Shek is Lung Si:
Batshit, blubbering and insane, but god damn, can Grandpa ruin a mother fucker’s day. Lung is Ho’s mentor and as such, is instantly a badass, but they make his character work to earn the audiences approval. Lung spends the first 2/3’s of the movie in a post-traumatic shock and has to be tended to like a fussy little kid. It takes up until the final shootout for him to unveil all his pent-up awesome, but it’s worth the wait. Mostly because he is hanging out with Chow Yun-Fat and tries to eat a raw slab of beef in that time.
Chow Yun-Fat is Ken Gor:
The reason the movie was made. Mark’s twin brother (whom we’ve never heard of before as he conveniently left Hong Kong after establishing himself a badass there to become a chef in New York and escape a life of continued badassness) fills in the void of greatness left by his passing at the end of part one. Ken’s hobbies include sucking on the flame of cigarette lighters, senselessly trashing his own apartment with food and shooting gangsters upwards of 40 times to the man. So—I like him. He spends 90% of his screen time screaming, disposing spent guns like they were soggy used toothpicks and he even dons Mark’s old jacket, using some of the 40+ bullet holes to clip grenades to. ‘Nuff said.
[THE BODY COUNT: ALMOST A COUPLE HUNDRED]
My eyes can’t move at a speed and concentration level necessary to properly tally this. Also, my computer’s dvd player doesn’t allow me to frame-by-frame (fucking windows). So, the total I got is probably off, but it’s the best I’m willing to do. I don’t get paid for this shit, I just like watching action movies.
Deaths are by guns, grenades, a bomb, a samurai sword and a shit load more guns. Chow’s total, counted by Kain is 76. I’m pretty sure that Kit got 5 and the badguys amassed around 30. As for Ho and Lung, I‘d estimate around 70 between them. Which would put the total for the film just shy of 200.
[MOST SATISFYING DEATH]
In all honesty, the last 20 minutes are nothing short of amazing. But, even though it is difficult to pick just one, I have to go with Ko’s Right-Hand Man. A enigmatic henchmen, all we really get to know about the character is that he kills for pleasure and not for profit. Cold blooded and ruthless though he is, he is also a man of honor when he meets a worthy advisory. Of which, he finds in Ken. Both men are shot up and bleeding to death, the only advantage between them, is that Ken has ran out of bullets. Some would see this as an disadvantage, but Ken just removes his shades, sticks a matchstick in his mouth and glares himself a fair duel. Right-Hand complies and slides Ken a gun. And the two have it out, gentlemen’s style.
[DUDESWEAT AND MACHISMO]
[flashvideo filename=videos/ABT2orange.avi.FLV /]
Yeah, I had more—but, Yeah…
[EXPLOITATION AND MISOGYNY]
Yeah, she should. All decisions of parental upbringing should be handled by a strong willed father. If left to weak, caring and supportive mothers the world wouldn’t have such luxuries as professional sports, AA or serial killers. Fathers—they’re FANtastic.
Then on top of Kit’s horribly neglected, pregnant and widowed [spoiler] wife (he leaves her during labor to continue working on his case, like a man), Lung’s daughter is shot and killed in an effort to make him angry. It works.
[EPIC MOMENT AND BEST ONE-LINER]
Ken Talks About His Family
When we first meet Ken he is working hard at his restaurant, cooking up a storm and taking time out to chastise some local Asian kids for dressing like his dead gangster brother. The goofy bit of post-modernism dick-sucking is soon interrupted (thankfully) when some asshole wanna-be hardassess start chucking their dinner all over the place and proclaiming how it is unsatisfactory.
“This fuckin’ fried rice STINKS!”
Ever polite, Ken offers the gentlemen another plate of food on the house, but it is soon revealed that what the savvy business men really want, is an order of protection money to go. Ken offers them a quarter and the bearded man counter-offers with a plate of rice to Ken’s face.
Ken [Laughing]: Whasamatter with you? You got a big problem, huh? You don’t like my rice? You don’t like my rice!? My rice is good, it tastes good. [Scoops the rice off the floor] What is wrong with the food? [Takes a bite] It is beautiful for me. You want to try some? No?—[Gets Chow Yun-Pissed] For you—rice nothing. But for us—[Channels Pacino] rice just like my mudda and fadduh. DON’T FUCK WITH MY FAMILY, huh—HUH!? IF YOU HAVE ANY DIGNITY, APOLOGIZE TO THE RICE RIGHT NOW!!!”
Just to clarify, my favorite line was the ‘Don’t fuck with my family’ one.
[THE MORAL OF THE STORY]
Don’t kill off Chow in your movie if there is even the slightest chance you’re going to make a sequel. ‘Cuz the kids just love ‘im!
[THE TAO OF CHOW: 5 outta 5]
[X] Has Interest(s) In The Arts
[X] Oral Fixation
[X] Performs An Overkill
[X] Uses 2 Guns At Once
[THE CHECKLIST: 16 outta 25]
[ ] Athlete(s) Turned “Actor”
[X] Clinging To The Outside Of A Moving Vehicle
[ ] Crotch Attack
[X] Dialogue Telling Us How Bad-Ass The Main Character(s) Is/Are
[ ] Ending Featuring An Ambulance, A Blanket or A Towel
[X] Giant Explosion(s)
[X] Heavy Artillery
[X] Improvised Weapon(s)
[ ] Macho Mode(s) Of Transportation
[X] Main Character Sports Facial Accessory(s)
[X] Manly Embrace(s)
[ ] Notorious Stunt-Man Sighting
[X] Passage(s) Of Time Via Montage
[ ] Politically Fueled Plot Point(s)
[X] Senseless Destruction Of Property
[X] Shoot Out(s) and/or Sword Fight(s)
[X] Slow-Motion Finishing Move(s)/Death(s)
[ ] Stupid Authoritative Figure(s)
[X] Substance Usage and/or Abuse
[ ] Tis The Season
[ ] Torture Sequence(s)
[X] Unnecessary Sequel
[X] Vehicle Chase(s)
[X] Vigilante Justice
I’ll be back. “To drink some soup.”
A Better Tomorrow II (1987) © Cinema City Film Productions, Film Workshop and Golden Princess Film Production Limited