Ying hung boon sik a.k.a. A Better Tomorrow (1986): Breakdown by Rantbo
Gangsters, Guns, Bullets, Blood—Credits.
A BETTER TOMORROW; a tale of brotherhood, honor, betrayal, friendship, family, trust, revenge and 10,000 bullets. It’s not John Woo’s first action film, and it’s not the first of the genre that would later be known as Heroic Bloodshed, but it re-defined them both and made them powerful mainstays in modern bad-ass cinema.
Simply put, A BETTER TOMORROW is one of the greatest action films ever made. And I stress the word ‘film’, because this isn’t you average everyday bad-acting, blow-shit-up mindless 80s action movie. This one has heart and soul. And Chow Yun-Fat lighting a cigarette with a flaming one-hundred dollar bill.
The film centers on a man named Ho and his relationship with two others; one his brother by blood and the other, his brother in friendship. Ho is a gangster trying to get out of the business for the sake of his younger brother, Kit, who knows not of his misdeeds and aspires to be a police officer. But, Ho is torn between doing what is right by his kin and doing harm to his best mate, Mark, who wants Ho to stay the course of his unlawful ways. And while this may sound like too much melodrama for a shoot-‘em-up movie, it isn’t and in fact it’s all that relationship drama that makes the action sequences so powerful.
Each of the main three characters stray their different ways throughout the course of a few years, but they all inevitably are pulled back together by the bonds that make them family, and are subsequently almost all destroyed by them. Ho is forced to choose between a real brother who hates him and a criminal friend that loves him like one. Kit is forced to search his soul for forgiveness, or chance losing the only family he has left. And Mark is forced to be the bridge between the two and must decide whether or not his life is worth losing, if it means helping his closest and only friend in his time of greatest need. Like I said, it’s pretty powerful. And that’s just the story.
As for the action, in my opinion, it’s better than anything ever shot pre-dating it. It’s that good. This was Woo’s first stab at a Heroic Bloodshed movie, and he knocked it out of the park. The man simply gets ‘It’. By combining his characters’ emotions, with grandiose gunplay and the perfect blend of slow-motion and blues; Woo turns his action scenes into a pure and fluid ballet of blood and bullets. And though many, MANY directors have since tried to replicate his style, none have matched the splendor of the master. With a gun in every fist, a matchstick in every mouth, a pair of aviators on every face and a bullet in every ass—John Woo redefined what action could be. He’s simply the best there is. Even after PAYCHECK.
[HOW BAD-ASS ARE THE MAIN CHARACTERS?]
Ti Lung is Sung Tse-Ho:
This guy is a survivor. Put him on that TV show, he’d win every season. Ho’s life sucks like a hoover, but he keeps on keeping on like Jesus Christ. Only with a semi-automatic and a receding hair-line instead of a cross and beard.
Leslie Chung is Sung Tse-Kit:
Persistent—but kind of a bitch. He manages to consistently get his ass handed to him, shot and left pouting. But, he does end up getting a handful of kills and early on slams a guy’s head through a table, who was two times his size. So, that was pretty cool—but, he’s still kind of a bitch.
Chow Yun-Fat is Mark Gor:
There is a scene in which the head of the crime family asks Mark if he will need any back-up for his mission to take out another gangster and his dozen or so heavily armed henchmen. Mark just smiles and shakes his head, no. As if to say, “That’s sweet of you to offer, but you must remember—I’m Chow Yun-Fat. There is none better.” He of course goes on to decimate the masses, and solidifies himself as a god amongst men.
[THE BODY COUNT: ABOUT 75]
And only two of those are done by characters outside the aforementioned trio.
This movie is a symphony of chaos and destruction, conducted with machine guns. The streets flow with the blood of nameless automatons, when Ho and Mark go out on the town. They’re like a 2 man army, ready and willing to blast the masses in a hurricane of bullets, for practically any reason and fuck the repercussions of an overbooked morgue and a helplessly pissed of police force.
[MOST SATISFYING DEATH]
Shing Gets Shot
It couldn’t be anyone other than Shing, the main villain and catalyst for all three of the main characters’ trials and tribulations. Now, I don’t want to ruin it—but he gets shot. But, good. And it’s more satisfying than a King Size Snickers watching his torso gush blood in slow-motion as he dies painfully of rapid-fire lead poisoning.
[DUDESWEAT AND MACHISMO]
Ho and Mark—are lovers.
If not, then they are that special uber kind of buddy-movie close, where the guys are never seen with a woman and only ever hang out with one another. You know, like militant gays.
After Ho gets released from prison, he sees his good buddy Mark, for the first time in 3 years and the two hold each other and cry. Ho sees the disheveled and broken shell of a man his “friend” has become and asks, “Why did you lie to me in your letters?”. Mark wrote to Ho in prison. Isn’t that romantic, you guys!? And he told him he was doing great, as to not worry his life-mate. Awww…
The duo go on throughout the movie outwardly expressing their most heartfelt feelings for one another and performing the type of passion-filled acts of brotherly love for each other, that no man would ever do for a measly woman.
Oh, and if you think my view on their relationship is skewed, near the beginning of the movie Ho picks up Mark on the side of the street near a mobile food stand and asks how his meal was and Mark wets his finger in his mouth and wipes it on Ho’s lips, and they both laugh. And it wasn’t in a “Gross dude, you fucking gay!?” gay frat guy way, this was in a playful gay couple way.
I should mention that at one point, Mark does hit on a chick named Linda. But, she doesn’t even look at him.
And it’s because this has clearly happened before, and she knows that he’s not really interested in women and that he’s only flirting with her, as he is a cunt-tease and gets off showing women what they can never have. Don’t dispute me.
[EXPLOITATION AND MISOGYNY]
Kit’s girlfriend, Jackie, is an accident-prone klutz, and a shrew. And in an act to straighten her out, karma intervenes throughout the movie and makes sure she gets slapped and later punched by a man three times her size.
That’s going to be a tough stain for her to get out of that carpet… But she should have thought twice before coughing up that blood in the living room. Oh, women…
[EPIC MOMENT AND BEST ONE-LINER]
EP-M: The True Meaning Of Brotherhood
Mark is free and clear with 2 million dollars to his name, but to continue speeding away in his jet boat means the abandonment and possible death of his BFF, Ho. What’s a guy to do? Mark goes back, and in the course of saving the Sung-Tse brothers’ lives, he also manages to get them to reconcile their differences. All whilst mowing down 30 or so heavily armed gangsters. What a guy.
Ho: Do you believe there’s a god?
Mark: Sure—I’m a god. A god can be human. Anyone who controls their own destiny is a god.
[THE MORAL OF THE STORY]
John Woo is the greatest action director of all time. Even after PAYCHECK.
[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: 19 outta 25]
[ ] Athlete(s) Turned “Actor”
[ ] Clinging To The Outside Of A Moving Vehicle
[X] 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)
[ ] Heavy Artillery
[X] Improvised Weapon(s)
[X] 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
[X] 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)
[X] Stupid Authoritative Figure(s)
[X] Substance Usage and/or Abuse
[ ] Tis The Season
[X] Torture Sequence(s)
[X] Unnecessary Sequel [A BETTER TOMORROW II]
[X] Vehicle Chase(s)
[X] Vigilante Justice
Drink Piss In A Night Club!
A Better Tomorrow (1986) © Cinema City Film Productions and Film Workshop