The creative partnership of director John Woo and producer Tsui Hark came unstuck during this sequel to the 1986 smash hit A Better Tomorrow. The result is a somewhat schizophrenic picture which manages to quadruple the body count of the original film, but at some cost to the plot and soul. The first problem Woo faced was the fact that a popular character had been killed off last time – no problem, the old identical twin routine saves the day. Chow Yun Fat dons sunglasses, trenchcoat, toothpick and charisma, Ti Lung and Leslie Cheung reprise their roles as brothers on different sides of the law, and Dean Shek chews oranges, raw slabs of steak and the occasional bit of scenery as a mob boss who is betrayed and subsequently unhinged.
Fans of the Hard Boiled school of blood letting will wallow in the film’s berserk finale, in which our heroes don black ties and white shirts (the Reservoir Dogs look starts here) and storm the bad guy’s mansion without a formal invitation. Once there, they paint the walls red with a mixed assortment of automatic weapons and high-powered explosives, including the celebrated stunt which came close to blowing up Chow Yun Fat for real.
I’m not sure if this all adds up to a narrative whole, but the film has enough sensational moments to carry it through, and to burn itself into your memory long after the final whisp of gunsmoke fades away.