Ying hung boon sik (A Better Tomorrow)

Year: 1986
Studio: Cinema City Film Productions
Director: John Woo
Producer: Tsui Hark
Writer: John Woo
Cast: Chow Yun-Fat, Leslie Cheung, Tsui Hark, John Woo
Apparently this movie was hugely influential in the Hong Kong action movie genre, spawning fashion trends among kids and contributing to the fame of the movement internationally.

Legendary producer Tsui Hark and Cinema City Film Productions were behind the early John Woo effort, and there are some interesting cultural disparities. Chinese audiences obviously liked the slightly ham fisted drama (of which there's a lot). The dialogue is faux tough-guy cheesy and the acting is over the top, the sort of hyper-real type that's long been one of the hallmarks of Asian cinema.

Typical western audiences would have a hard time swallowing so much cornball, which is why when writer/director Woo moved west, he bought his other distinctive habits with him, such as like violent gunplay in balletic slow motion.

As such, despite being a pioneering example of a popular genre, much of the movie is lost in translation. You'll find yourself wallowing through scenes of droll, corny dialogue and self-important dramatic flourishes waiting for the next gunfight or chase scene.

A pair of gangster friends live the high life, one only slightly discomfited by having a rising inspector cop for a brother. When a job in Taiwan goes wrong and he's captured and put away, he emerges determined to put his criminal past behind him, but his former gang, including the upstart whippersnapper who helped him on the Taiwan job but is now the overlord of the gang, don't want to let such skill get away easily.

He tries to reconcile with his brother whose own progress through the ranks of the HKPD is hindered by his shady family connection, and the former counterfeiter turned taxi driver has to find his old partner (Chow), who's now down on his luck, and together extricate themselves from their old crimes - violently if necessary.

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