Review: A Better Tomorrow (1986)

Directed by:
Cast: , ,

Not available in Australia on DVD (to our knowledge)

This is where legends were made.

Little known director John Woo was hired to direct a gangster film, but had the idea that it would use the warrior code of a swordplay film, exchanging the swords for guns. In the role of the lead killer he cast television drama star Chow Yun Fat, against the wishes of the studio, but Yun Fat had exactly the right ‘everyman’ qualities that Woo was looking for. He plays Mark Gor, the close buddy of fellow triad member Ho (Ti Lung, a veteran Shaw Bros actor). Ho’s brother Kit (pop star Leslie Cheung) is a trainee policemen, making for some strained family relations.

The tension between the brothers comes to boiling point, as will your television: it all started here, the slo-mo gunfights, the trademark bullet ballets, the sharp suits and liberal armament. The body count is not as excessive as Hard Boiled (Woo worked his way up to that), but the director has rarely equalled the perfect pitch of this fine story of honour and betrayal.

The box office went wild; that summer in Hong Kong every young man who considered himself stylish was wearing a “Mark coat”, despite the sweltering heat. The Hong Kong crime film had opened a new chapter, and its greatest ever gunman was on the loose.

This one is not to be missed; if you’ve never seen where the CYF/Woo partnership all began, you’re in for a treat.

10 births of a genre out of 10.
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