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Overall Rating
3.81

Awesome46.9%
Worth A Look: 15.04%
Average: 15.04%
Pretty Bad: 18.58%
Total Crap: 4.42%

6 reviews, 77 user ratings


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Better Luck Tomorrow
[AllPosters.com] Buy posters from this movie
by The Ultimate Dancing Machine

"Not bad, but haven't I seen this before?"
3 stars

BETTER LUCK TOMORROW deals with a pack of Asian-American high school students whose flirtation with the gangster lifestyle eventually leads to ruin. Its ethnic makeup gives it a certain novelty; it’s uncommon to see Asians taking center stage (literally) like they do here, and in this film there isn’t a Laundromat or drugstore in sight. But that aside, the movie isn’t quite as original as we’re supposed to believe—you’ve seen a lot of it before. I don’t claim to know what goes on inside the head of director Justin Lin, but I’d bet the house he’s watched Scorsese’s GOODFELLAS, probably more than once.

The similarities run all the way through this thing: the voiceover narration; the freeze frames; the suddenly-there’s-a-body teaser opening; the robbery gone wrong that proves disastrous—I could go on like this for a while. It got to the point where I began mentally labeling each character Ray Liotta or Joe Pesci or whatever their counterpart was. In fairness, it’s less a rip-off of Scorsese’s film than a reinterpretation—GOODFELLAS resized for the California suburban youth culture. These Asian-American wannabe gangsters aren’t hard-core thugs (one of them tends to dissolve into tears whenever matters become stressful). They’re just kids trying to grab the brass ring, and none of them is really aware what it costs to get it.

Lin does have a fine sense of pacing—the film never drags—and he scores valid points about the seductiveness of power and easy money; he makes you see how the simple desire of peer acceptance can lead people into terrible decisions. Sometimes, though, he resorts to weird-angle shots and fast-flurry editing in what seem like self-conscious attempts at “style.” In a gimmick that feels more awkward each time it’s employed, the film prefaces each major plot development by flashing a typeface dictionary entry of a word relevant to the action. He doesn’t need to pull stunts like that; he has a fairly solid cast in front of the camera: the characters are all well delineated, and it’s easy enough to forgive the occasional blown line.

As a director, Lin makes mistakes, certainly, but when all is said his film feels more authentic than not. He does not wallow in nihilism or cheap sensationalistic effects—perhaps this is why his characters, horrible though they may seem at times, never become repellent. I don’t think he’s quite found his voice yet, but I would be interested to see his future projects.

This is a respectable effort, all around—it’s just that this material has been done better elsewhere.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=5744&reviewer=223
originally posted: 03/20/03 14:13:00
[printer] printer-friendly format  
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2002 Sundance Film Festival. For more in the 2002 Sundance Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

9/07/10 PAUL SHORTT GRITTY, WELL MADE HIGH SCHOOL DRAMA 3 stars
8/01/07 Steve Newman Actually quite good - did not kow what to expect. Sky summary way of the mark - watch it 4 stars
1/12/07 Sugarfoot Brillant 5 stars
11/14/06 Bori whats with Han? Same character from Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift? 5 stars
10/19/06 ifyoufly HORRIBLE!!grating cliches in every scene...cigs,shades,skateboards,letter jackets,LADEEFNDA 1 stars
6/19/06 donald I'm SO TIRED of the "kid who have nothing to do but screw and do drugs and kill" genre. 1 stars
4/15/05 ELI fuuuuuuuuck! I don't understand anyone who doesn't like this movie. I LOVE IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
2/06/05 clinger26 crap spwaned from Sundance 1 stars
11/21/04 tina johnson Interesting ambitious Chinese high school students that later turn out to be gangsters. 3 stars
10/27/04 Ben Mr.Critic, To watch it and not noticing the actors were asian was the ENTIRE point u idiot. 4 stars
9/22/04 Mike Judelle Chan its so weird I hate it 2 stars
9/10/04 Sean Armenta disappointing 3 stars
7/25/04 DM Great for a debut, but still flawed 4 stars
7/20/04 matt shimizu soo good 5 stars
6/19/04 Jimbo I kept watching cuz I thought it was gonna get better 2 stars
5/11/04 Easy Bleezy pimp shit 5 stars
3/02/04 Michael Mungin Way too stylish, but i can't wait till Justin Lin finds his stride. 4 stars
2/25/04 susan lee the director is awesome guy... support asians in film 4 stars
1/20/04 stevo started off very well, but just got stupider and stupider 2 stars
1/02/04 Erin I love it,Jason Tobin is an awesome actor. 5 stars
11/17/03 autumn A.W.E.S.O.M.E. a MUST SEE! 5 stars
11/16/03 slim movie depicts real teenage azns, seen somethings they act out, performance very realistic. 5 stars
10/28/03 t For a commercial debut - this is classic, better than all the high school flicks in years 5 stars
10/25/03 Gabriel Tothe Totally realistic in it's expliotation of high school male agnst and it's ramifications 5 stars
10/01/03 Cindy unrealistic and dangerous! There are NO consequences for anyones actions in the whole film 1 stars
6/20/03 Sixteen Yoke of Oxygen Unflattering view of Asian-American community. And no distinct ending. 2 stars
6/07/03 Kai Loved this movie!! Jason U R such a sweetie I miss u!!!! 5 stars
5/21/03 Nancy N. When my 16-year-old and I both like the same movie, that's something 4 stars
5/13/03 GERNI YAMBAO OVERALL-VERY GOOD 4 stars
5/11/03 Z This movie is so real that its even scary. 5 stars
5/09/03 mike If anyone knows when the BLT FULL soundtrack is released, email me at KMmike13@aol.com 5 stars
5/04/03 Terry Loved it..I thought its very realistic..3-D characters! 5 stars
5/03/03 katsat Just not convincing, didn't buy any of the "bad stuff" for a second. 2 stars
5/03/03 maiya i loved it!! my friends and i thought it was a great movie =] 5 stars
5/02/03 Aimee Great film! 5 stars
5/02/03 lauren silly 1 stars
5/01/03 Jerry Great film! Definately makes a statement for the Asian film community 4 stars
4/30/03 Janise Parry Shen is gorgeous. I love him! 5 stars
4/29/03 Milly S. boring, disjointed plot, i wanted to leave! 2 stars
4/29/03 Stacy Great Movie!! 5 stars
4/29/03 Evan Thought-provoking and intense...it's a great movie... 5 stars
4/28/03 Viewer Totally UNREALISTIC and pointless 2 stars
4/28/03 d v 5 stars
4/20/03 Michael $50 if you do this by tomorrow 5 stars
4/20/03 Justine Lee Refreshing. Hilarious, Dark. Reflects well what can be seen at my high school. 4 stars
4/18/03 Dave Nguyen great movie 5 stars
4/17/03 hmb few sparks of creativity in a melange of over kinetic flash rendered ultimately shallow ... 3 stars
4/17/03 Sully click click BOOM 5 stars
4/15/03 nicole A thought provoking movie! Well acted and directed. 5 stars
4/15/03 d brilliant. thought-provoking. go see it. 5 stars
4/14/03 Jenny Funny and provocative. Embraces a certain part of teenage Asian-American angst. 5 stars
4/14/03 MattG This will be one of my favs for a looong time!!! 5 stars
4/14/03 einral A gripping story told from a different perspective. Bravo! 5 stars
4/14/03 Patricia Awesome, smart, artistic movie. Original in its script and real with its dialogue. Superb 5 stars
4/13/03 Leong Asians are making it in US film 5 stars
4/12/03 AngelBear Awesome movie! Blows the "model minority" sterotype out the window! 5 stars
4/12/03 Jesse Parsells what's the point of the film?... going for goofy comedy or over the top drama/ violence? 3 stars
4/09/03 jamie harris It was awesome! And Parry Shen his ssoooo HOTT!!!!!! 5 stars
4/06/03 joe budden Great action and drama 5 stars
4/04/03 Jesse Lin Excellent characters, great movie! Definitely worth watching... 5 stars
4/04/03 Amy It's a welcome change to the neatly packaged and highly predictable storylines of Hollywood 5 stars
4/02/03 Brandon Judell An ordeal to sit through. Well-meant though. 2 stars
3/31/03 Lyn Thet Enjoyable, interesting, look forward to his next movie 4 stars
3/22/03 John Andes go see this FILM!! 5 stars
3/18/03 David Lee Most Awesome Movie EVER!! 5 stars
2/01/03 T. S. Great Film! 5 stars
1/19/03 kevin yee Awesome 5 stars
12/27/02 deedo AWESOME! 5 stars
12/22/02 ShaolinMiddleFinger Great great movie 5 stars
10/10/02 Ricecakes Reminds me of my high school days... *sigh* memories this isthe asian "do the right thing" 5 stars
8/14/02 Sompathana Phitsanoukanh This will break all the barriers, and let in a flooded of more Asian Americans into movies! 5 stars
7/06/02 B-One Excellent movie! Two thumbs up! 5 stars
5/23/02 Tippy rather disturbing, even if not soley for the irk factor, definitely worth watching 4 stars
5/21/02 jtc kudos to justin 5 stars
5/18/02 Teresa Kao Geat ready for the Asian American century. 5 stars
4/28/02 Savina Goo This film shows Asian Amercians as real people. 5 stars
4/21/02 Kubrox Cliches + Asian Leads = Originality!? 2 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  11-Apr-2003 (R)

UK
  N/A

Australia
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Directed by
  Justin Lin

Written by
  Justin Lin

Cast
  Parry Shen
  Jason Tobin
  Roger Fan
  Sung Kang
  Karin Anna Chueng
  John Cho



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