Combustible Celluloid
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With: Chow Yun-Fat, Ti Lung, Leslie Cheung, Dean Shek
Written by: John Woo, Tsui Hark
Directed by: John Woo
MPAA Rating: NR
Language: Cantonese with English subtitles
Running Time: 104
Date: 12/17/1987

A Better Tomorrow II (1987)

4 Stars (out of 4)

Woo'd by Sequel

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Though he occupied the supporting role and dies at the end, Chow Yun-fat clearly stole A Better Tomorrow. So, when box office performance demanded a sequel, Woo resurrected Chow in the form of a long-lost twin brother who joins the characters of the first film (Ti Lung and Leslie Cheung) for revenge. A Better Tomorrow II is less cohesive than the first, but also more charged. Chow doesn't show up for a long time, but when he does, it's worth it. Playing a restaurant owner, he torments a gweilo customer trying to collect protection money by making him eat fried rice that's fallen on the floor. A huge shoot-out finale with a body count that makes Dirty Harry look sloppy ends the movie.

Sadly, the movie is not as familiar to American moviegoers as Woo's later works The Killer (1989) and Hard-Boiled (1992). And throughout the 1980s and 1990s, it was only available in dubbed videos or badly subtitled prints. But now, thanks to the wonderful folks at Anchor Bay Entertainment, it is available on a crisp DVD. Viewers who watch it with clear, correct subtitles and letterboxed pictures will finally see it as the classic it deserves to be.

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