A Better Tomorrow Review

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The blood-soaked tale of two brothers in Hong Kong - one a cop, the other a gangster, and what happens when one tries to bring the other down…


The film that turned Hong Kong cinema away from nunchucks and onto guns and cool trench coats, simultaneously launching the careers of John Woo and Chow Yun-fat, hasn't worn as well as The Killer or the more bombastic Hard Boiled, but it still packs a heck of a punch. The real surprise is that it's mostly an emotional one.

The ever-charismatic Chow Yun-fat steals the show as a match-chewing gangster (indeed so well-received was his performance that he was brought back for the sequel in a 'twin brother' capacity) but the focus is actually on the relationship between cop Leslie Cheung and his crime-world brother Ti Lung. All the Woo trademarks are here, but in a less evolved, embryonic, still highly enjoyable form, and the final shoot-out is supremely choreographed mayhem of the kind that Woo has seemingly forgotten to orchestrate in his recent, anodyne Hollywood output.

A reminder of the astonishingly kinetic talent that John Woo maybe still possesses, this at times is on the verge of melodrama, but rescues itself from the brink with some fine gunplay.