A Better Tomorrow

Bomb Rating: 

This is one of John Woo's earliest "violence as opera" efforts and it makes one painfully aware of how close this guy was to being a director of soap operas or women's douche commercials.

A lot of times on DVDs, like "The Matrix" for example, the music score will be isolated so that you can watch the movie with music only and glean some insight into how the music was composed. Had this been done on the disc I watched for "A Better Tomorrow," I would have tossed my speakers off my balcony. It's the kind of music that gave me horrific visions of screaming Chinese dissidents. Screw water torture; play a few minutes of this soundtrack and I'll tell whoever wants to listen about the wonderful benefits of communism.

This deals with John Woo's favorite theme: man love. By that I mean the often complicated ways men deal with their love for their fellow man, be it friend or brother. In this case, Ho (Ti Lung) and Mark (Chow Yun Fat) are partners in a counterfeiting ring. Ho's brother, Kit (Leslie Chung) is a cop. Ho agrees to quit his life of crime to protect his brother but Ho's last job turns into a fiasco, leading to the death of his father. Mark is crippled while Kit is shamed by his brother and blames Ho for their father's death.

When Ho gets out of prison, life sucks. Mark limps around. Kit hates him and the mob won't let him alone. Woo's solution to this dilemma is typically simple: Pick up a few automatic weapons and shoot everybody in sight. When you think about it, there's a definite pornography element to John Woo -- he almost always uses the same money shot, testosterone is always involved, and somebody always gets screwed.

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