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Archive - 9th Five Flavours Film Festival

A Better Tomorrow II

Ying hung boon sik II
Hong Kong 1987, 103’
subtitles: Polish and English
director: John Woo
screenplay: John Woo, Tsui Hark
cinematography: Wong Wing-hang
editing: David Wu
music: Joseph Koo, Lowell Lo
cast: Ti Lung, Chow Yun-fat, Leslie Cheung, Dean Shek, Shan Kwan, Emily Chu
producer: Tsui Hark, Paul J.Q. Lee
production: Film Workshop
language: Cantonese, Mandarin, English
colouration: colour

Film description

After the dazzling success of "Better Tomorrow", it was only natural to make a sequel – in commercial cinema proven ideas are rarely given up. The same team gathered once again to tell the story of honorable, romantic heroes fighting for justice in the dark, concrete alleys of Hong Kong. Chow Yun-fat, here already a star, plays his role with distance and sense of humor, even commenting on the fashion he started among young Asians after the premiere of the first part.

Although "Better Tomorrow II" has plenty dramatic scenes, the film is much lighter than the original, with more auto-irony and winks to the audience. The plot is more of a pretext and often moves to the background – the action is all that matters. The shooting sequences, especially the final battle with a criminal boss' luxurious villa turns into a bloody ruin, are now considered canonical. Some of them were meticulously remade by the Wachowski in the first "Matrix," clearly pointing out to the source of modern action cinema's dynamics.

Already while working on "Better Tomorrow" Woo started realizing the ideas which were fully developed here, and which turned him into a stylist of Sam Peckinpah's and Sergio Leone's class. Among them are building the reality based on an intensive editing (David Borwell calls it constructive) and an abundant use of slow-motion shots and extreme close-ups.

John Woo likes to say, that for him rifles are no different from swords. It is fully visible in scenes where Ho (Ti Lung – wuxia films star) reaches for white arm, becoming an equal opponent for a band of gun-carrying thugs.

Marcin Krasnowolski

John Woo

Born in 1946 in southern China, raised in Hongkong. Started his career as an assistant of the director in the legendary Shaw Brothers Studio (he worked with Chang Cheh, the legend of wuxia cinema). He debuted in 1973, but the breakthrough came only in 1986, with "A Better Tomorrow," made with Tsui Hark. Woo's subsequent Hongkong films confirmed his reputation of the master of action sequences. After 1992, he moved to Hollywood and gained acclaim for "Face/Off" and "Mission: Impossible II." He returned to China to direct his newest, two-part production, "The Crossing."

Selected filmography:

1986 Lepsze jutro / Better Tomorrow
1987 Lepsze jutro 2 / Better Tomorrow II
1989 Killer
1990 Kula w łeb / Bullet in the Head
1991 Był sobie złodziej / Once a Thief
1992 Hard Boiled. Dzieci Triady / Hard Boiled
1997 Bez twarzy / Face/Off
2000 Mission: Impossible 2 / Mission: Impossible II
2015 The Crossing

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