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A BETTER TOMORROW

Hong Kong, 1986 (MIFF 1991, Hong Kong)

Director: John Woo

From the director of last year's Festival hit The Killer comes this earlier work, an ultraviolent, hyperkinetic gangster melodrama which virtually began a whole new stylistic trend in the loyal-to-the-last, macho buddy pic genre.

A Better Tomorrow showcases three Hong Kong megastars (Chow Yun Fat, Leslie Cheung and Ti Lung) in a blood-splattered tale of razzle-dazzle action and ingenuous male bonding. Yun Fat and Cheung play a pair of brothers, in conflicting roles, the outlaw and the cop, each of whom is connected to Ti Lung as a reformed crim who realises soon enough that a man with a past will have difficulties adjusting to a new normal life. These difficulties contribute to a frenetically paced bang-bang thriller in which personal and professional pledges are severely tested while the spectacular body count rises to delirious heights. One of Hong Kong cinema's biggest box-office successes, John Woo's A Better Tomorrow is an absolute must for fans of fast and furious filmic fireworks, Chinatown-style, (A.McK.)

Director's Note "I wanted to play up the violence in A Better Tomorrow. I exaggerated blood and death to make the audience sense the visible and widespread power of the underworld. The film was also, in part, influenced by Zhang Che's martial arts films. Not so much in the way of portraying violence, but in his restrained way of depicting emotions and chivalry. Chinese cinema has always been too low keyed. We should be more expressive, put more of ourselves into our films.' - John Woo

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