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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 Dennis Swennumson

"If X2 is sold out, so what, you should see this movie first anyway."
5 stars

"Our straight A's were our alibis," says Ben (Parry Shen) of his circle of friends early in the film Better Luck Tomorrow, an important new film by Justin Lin. He owns a streak of Employee of the Month awards at his fast food job, volunteers at the hospital and spends lunch with the various clubs he participates in. The group he is talking about, Virgil (Jason Tobin), Han (Sung Kang) and Daric (Roger Fan) have track records much like his, constantly padding their college applications in hopes of being accepted at Ivy League schools.

Eventually the group becomes dissatisfied with the image of the well-behaved, over-achieving Asian-American students, and turn to various criminal activities for an escape. The quick money and power of cheating, stealing and drug dealing they experience renders them blind to the consequences of such activities. The ironic part is that these kids do not live in any project or ghetto, they reside in the picture-perfect gated communities of Southern California.

Director Justin Lin aims to topple these stereotypes by presenting their exact opposites, and he could not have better succeeded. Lin and cinematographer Patrice Cochet give the film a visual style that pulses much like its crime movie influences. Better Luck Tomorrow is also very funny. The quick editing style goes hand in hand with the humor in a scene where Ben and Virgil try out for the Academic Decathalon Team, the practices for which they use as a front for partying.

Better Luck Tomorrow does follow some teen movie conventions, like Ben's attraction to Stephanie (Karin Anna Cheung). But their relationship is regulated only to friendship; Stephanie dates a guy from the rival prep school. The humor and romance in the story do not deter from the seriousness of the groups' deviance. These elements simply show that, despite their crimes, these characters are only teens, unable to cope with the inevitable ramifications for their decisions.

Larry Clark covered this kind of material in two shocking and powerful films, Kids and Bully. The teenagers in those movies wander aimlessly through life, rejecting education and authority, living for violence and promiscuity. Teens that society shuns, yet they lack the spirit to overcome the difficulties of their environments. The characters of Better Luck Tomorrow are embraced and expected to be the future leaders of our country. This is a social commentary that does not manipulate, it leaves the decision of whom to blame for what happens on- screen to the audience.

Better Luck Tomorrow is horrifying, thought provoking and an expertly made film.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=5744&reviewer=338
originally posted: 05/03/03 09:45:35
[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
  N/A


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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