Written by: Michael Den Boer on April 17th, 2004
Theatrical Release Date: Hong Kong, 1987
Director: John Woo
Writers: John Woo, Tsui Hark
Cast: Chow Yun-Fat, Leslie Cheung, Lung Ti
DVD Released: March 2nd, 2004
Approximate Running Time: 104 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono Cantonese, Dolby Digital Mono English
DVD Release: Anchor Bay
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $24.98
Synopsis: Ho (Lung Ti) in prison again is offered parole if he helps the police arrest his mentor Lung(Dean Shek). At first Ho resists until he finds out his younger brother Kit (Leslie Cheung) who is already working on the case. When Lungs believes that he has killed a competitor, he flees to New York. He has a nervous breakdown after an attempt on his life.Ho meets up with Mark’s twin brother Ken (Chow Yun-Fat) who runs a Chinese restaurant. Ken nurse’s Lung back to sanity and when the mob shows up to take them out. The sound of gun fire brings Lung back to his senses, as he helps Ken defeat the mob hit man. Ken agrees to return to Hong Kong with Lung to reclaim his business from his rival Ko.
The success of A Better Tomorrow would spawn countless imitators in Hong Kong. John Woo in A Better Tomorrow 2 would take everything he had learned from A Better Tomorrow and exaggerate the central motifs explored in the first film. Friction between John Woo and Producer Tsui Hark had been building since A Better Tomorrow and now as they entered the final stages of A Better Tomorrow 2. Their Relationship had clearly run its course. The massive gun battle at Ko’s country house is a tour-de-force from John Woo and the Mexican stand off in this scene is one of Woo’s most inspired gun motifs. The original cut of A Better Tomorrow 2 ran close to 2 hours and forty minutes in length and Woo under pressure from the studio and Tsui Hark would cut about an hour out of the film. More brutal then the first A Better Tomorrow and John Woo has made sequel that holds its own against the original.
Presented in its original 1:85:1 aspect ratio and the image is anamorphic enhanced for widescreen television sets. Grain is kept to a minimum and the source material even though it is not perfect it is still very good. The colors are beautifully rendered without any bleeding or loss of tone.
There are two audio options on this DVD. First the movie’s original Cantonese language track in presented in Dolby Digital Mono and the English dubbed track in Dolby Digital Mono. The audio is dynamic and has good frequecny response. This track has plenty of punch and the English subtitles are easy to read.
You get 2 theatrical trailers and talent bios on John Woo and Chow Yun-fat. To bad Anchor Bay rushed this release and didn’t deliver on the audio commentary they promised with John Woo. Anchor Bay offers up A Better Tomorrow and A Better Tomorrow 2 in this DVD 2 pack at a very reasonable price. Both films have never looked better on DVD and maybe one day these two films will get the SE DVD’s they deserve. Tell then the Anchor Bay DVD set is the way to go. If you are a Woo/Yun-Fat fan, this DVD is a definite purchase.