Combustible Celluloid
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With: Chow Yun-Fat, Ti Lung, Leslie Cheung
Written by: Chan Hing-Ka, Leung Suk-Wah, John Woo
Directed by: John Woo
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Language: Cantonese with English subtitles
Running Time: 94
Date: 08/02/1986

A Better Tomorrow (1986)

4 Stars (out of 4)

Woo'd by New DVD

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

John Woo's A Better Tomorrow (1986) is the Star Wars of Hong Kong. It shook up the box-office, shattered all records, and changed the way movies were made there. But sadly, the movie is not as familiar to American moviegoers as Woo's later works The Killer (1989) and Hard-Boiled (1992). And it's only been available in dubbed videos or badly subtitled prints. But now, thanks to the wonderful folks at Anchor Bay Entertainment, A Better Tomorrow, and its superior sequel, A Better Tomorrow II are now available on crisp new DVDs, letterboxed and with optional subtitles. Viewers who watch these new DVDs with clear, correct subtitles and letterboxed pictures will finally see them as the classics they deserve to be.

A Better Tomorrow may surprise moviegoers with its gigantic over-the-top emotional outbursts and operatic violence. Woo took the old-time story of two brothers, one a cop and another a counterfeiter, and raised the stakes on it. Instead of making the story itself more outrageous by adding car chases or an escaped elephant, he poured more pure emotion into it. These brothers feel more pain, elation, and rage than any of their older movie counterparts. It's not uncommon for a character to fall to his knees and scream at the gods above. As a trump card, Woo cast Chow Yun Fat, the great HK actor who would become a staple in five of Woo's films.

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