More in-depth film festival coverage than any other website!
Home Reviews  Articles  Release Dates Coming Soon  DVD  Top 20s Criticwatch  Search
Public Forums  Festival Coverage  Contests About 

Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 29.41%
Average: 0%
Pretty Bad: 0%
Total Crap: 2.94%

3 reviews, 16 user ratings

Latest Reviews

Lucky Grandma by Jay Seaver

Vast of Night, The by Peter Sobczynski

High Note, The by Peter Sobczynski

Taking of Tiger Mountain, The by Jay Seaver

Trip to Greece, The by Peter Sobczynski

Night God by Jay Seaver

Alice (2019) by Jay Seaver

On a Magical Night (Chambre 212) by Jay Seaver

Driveways by Jay Seaver

Free Country by Jay Seaver

subscribe to this feed

Better Tomorrow, A
[] Buy posters from this movie
by Slyder

"The film that started it all"
5 stars

1986’s A Better Tomorrow is the film that put Director John Woo and its star Chow Yun Fat on the map; a visually stylish, commercial breakthrough of ultra-violent proportions, it marked the beginning of a renaissance of both the Hong Kong gangster genre and the action genre as well thanks to Woo’s revolutionizing brand of two-fisted gun blazing shootouts, staccato edits and slow-mo takes. Despite the fact that Woo would perfect his technique with his subsequent masterpiece The Killer, this film is a certified action classic on its own and would pave the way for a new era of action films to come.

Sung Tse Ho (Ti Lung) and Mark Lee (Chow) are two of the main Triads running a counterfeit racket in Hong Kong. When Ho learns that his little brother Sung Tse Kit (Leslie Chung) has entered the academy to become a cop, Ho bows to his father (Tien Feng) that he will retire from the triads after one last deal in Taiwan. Ho travels with Tam Shing (Waise Lee) to Taipei but is betrayed unbeknownst to him by Shing and is jailed while his father is murdered. 3 years later Ho is released from prison and tries to go straight with his life from as a taxi driver, but Kit, now a cop, blames him for the killing of his father and wants nothing to do with him. Mark is now crippled after avenging Ho in a restaurant shootout and is a shadow of his former self, being fucked over by Shing whom is now the triad boss in the racket. After several hesitations, Mark and Ho finally plot their revenge against Shing with Ho doing it as a last chance to gain Kit’s love and respect back.

One of the aspects that makes this film noteworthy besides being memorable is seeing the rise of John Woo as an action director; this is when Woo was barely starting to take claim over the action genre and make it his own and the results are bold and violently impressive. The music is pretty good though it's so 80's by today's standards. The storyline though solid is a bit melodramatic and it takes a bit of a while to get going, but once it gets going brace yourself as Woo’s trademark of blurring the lines of black and white into shades of gray goes full-swing and the now standard themes of loyalty and brotherhood in a world of every-day violence pop into life. Woo’s penchant for ultra-violent action scenes was still raw but nevertheless powerful and unique, and it’s culminated by one of the most memorable action scenes ever when Mark avenges his friend Ho by blasting his way in and out of a restaurant in spectacular fashion (and getting permanently injured in the process). The climatic shootout in a boathouse is also one of the most violent ever filmed.

The acting is excellent; Ti Lung is superb as the disgraced Ho and is countered superbly by Leslie Chung as his brother Kit, but the real star of the show despite not having the same screen time as those two is Chow Yun Fat whom delivers a mesmerizing performance as the tortured Mark and is one of his most unforgettable roles. This is the movie which introduced the now famous “Mark Look;” gangsters usually are a bunch of ragged lowlife bastards but Chow’s Mark, sporting in ivy-league suit, trench coat, Ray Ban sunglasses and two 9mm Beretta 92s single-handedly changed the way gangsters looked; that, plus Chow’s charismatic screen presence made him one of the coolest baddest motherfucking guys on the planet. BTW, watch out for Woo making a cameo as a Taiwan detective.

In the end, this action thriller is a must for every die-hard action fan out there. Go and watch the film that put all those American dunderheads like Stallone and Schwarzennegger to shame and set towering standards for action films to come. But Woo wasn’t done yet, as there was still plenty of ground to cover. 4.5-5

link directly to this review at
originally posted: 12/04/04 07:34:52
[printer] printer-friendly format  

User Comments

3/16/09 Josie Cotton is a goddess The film that made Chow Yen Fat a superstar! 5 stars
5/25/07 Sugarfoot Once again Woo's HK movies make me weep for the talent he left behind. 5 stars
5/11/06 Agent Sands Actually, it's on par with your average '70s-'80s TV movie, save for Chow Yun-Fat's scenes. 4 stars
9/27/05 John J. Ground breaking 5 stars
9/27/04 Archanist_101 This classic is inbetween "Face/Off" & "DIE HARD"!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
7/01/04 "Meth Lab" for Dummies. Not as good as i though but, GREAT NONETHELESS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 4 stars
11/21/03 rony i only saw the first movie, which i thought was very AWESOME!!! but i gotta see the 2nd^_^ 5 stars
7/03/03 ND a masterpiece,'s one of true Hong Kong classic, CYF and Woo look so good 5 stars
6/21/03 Sammy action is awesome but it is still not good as his best...THE KILLER! 5 stars
8/19/02 Mr. Hat (I'm Back!) Save for the horrible dubbing job, this is a great movie. 4 stars
11/30/01 Rutt13 Easy to see how this was a phenomenon in HK, groundbreaking 5 stars
8/14/01 KC Au The best film from Hong Kong I have seen! Highly recommended! 5 stars
6/26/01 Lars Pettersson What a great actionmovie! Chow Yun-Fat is incredible. The ending is pure magic !!! 4 stars
5/13/01 Rudolpho Antonio Chicano Mexicano dePerez Woo falls flat. Lomeo must die! 1 stars
5/21/00 Cinesuerte great mix of action heroism 5 stars
5/03/99 The Bomb 69 No one does it better!!! Woo is God!!! 5 stars
Note: Duplicate, 'planted,' or other obviously improper comments
will be deleted at our discretion. So don't bother posting 'em. Thanks!
Your Name:
Your Comments:
Your Location: (state/province/country)
Your Rating:

Discuss this movie in our forum

  02-Feb-1986 (R)
  DVD: 02-Mar-2004



Directed by
  John Woo

Written by
  John Woo

  Yun-Fat Chow
  Lung Ti
  Leslie Cheung
  Emily Chu
  Waise Lee
  Fui-On Shing

Home Reviews  Articles  Release Dates Coming Soon  DVD  Top 20s Criticwatch  Search
Public Forums  Festival Coverage  Contests About Australia's Largest Movie Review Database.
Privacy Policy | HBS Inc. | |   

All data and site design copyright 1997-2017, HBS Entertainment, Inc.
Search for
reviews features movie title writer/director/cast