Written by: Michael Den Boer on April 17th, 2004
Theatrical Release Date: Hong Kong, 1986
Director: John Woo
Writers: Hing-Ka Chan, Suk-Wah Leung, John Woo
Cast: Chow Yun-Fat, Leslie Cheung, Lung Ti
DVD Released: March 2nd, 2004
Approximate Running Time: 94 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: Triad members Ho (Ti Lung) and Mark (Chow Yun-Fat) help run a successful counterfeit business with some foreign criminals out of an office in downtown Hong Kong. Ho is sent on another mission in Taiwan were he is betrayed by the crooks he was to do business with and he sent to a Taiwanese prison. His younger brother Kit (Leslie Cheung) is devastated by the news of the older brother he had always idolized is now in prison.
To exact revenge for what has happened to Ho, Mark goes to Taiwan. Mark walks down the hallway with a woman on his arm and as he walks by a flower pot he hides a gun in each flower pot. When Mark enters the room with his guns blazing and he then backtracks to the hallway to get his guns that he has hidden. He is shot and severely wounded in the shot-out. Years later when Ho is released from prison, Kit is embittered because of his criminal status has prevented him from rising up the ranks in the police force. Defeated Ho realizes that going straight is his only hope and he reunites with Mark. Ho and Mark join forces for the final climatic battle where they seek revenge against the traid boss who betrayed them.
With A Better Tomorrow John Woo and Chow Yun-fat would hit it big with their first collaboration. The film is based on the little seen 1967 film Story of a Discharged Prisoner. John Woo as a director would bring about an abrupt change in his work with A Better Tomorrow and it is rare for an artist to go on to greater success after reinventing themselves. A Better Tomorrow was a huge critical and commercial hit. It is the highest grossing movie in the history of Hong Kong cinema. A Better Tomorrow is rich in style and John Woo creates wonderfully tense moments and his reinvention of gunfights gave action films inspiration for years to come.
Presented in its original 1:85:1 aspect ratio and the image is anamorphic enhanced for widescreen television sets. The colors are beautifully rendered without any bleeding or loss of tone. The blacks are deep and the majority of other shots with dark sequences in particular suffer from lack of shadow detail.
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.
Anchor Bay has neglected this classic of Hong Kong cinema in the extras department. You get 2 theatrical trailers and talent bios on John Woo and Chow Yun-fat. 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.