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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » A Better Tomorrow II
A Better Tomorrow II
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Review by Earl Cressey | posted January 6, 2001 | E-mail the Author
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Review:
Movie:
A Better Tomorrow II, originally released in 1988, was directed by John Woo and stars the same actors from the first film who resume their original roles. Most notably, these are: Chow Yun Fat (Mark/Ken), Ti Lung (Ho), and Leslie Cheung (Kit).

The film begins with little time having elapsed from the end of the first. Ho is imprisoned and Kit is still a police officer. The police approaches Ho with an undercover assignment that Kit is unaware of: They want Ho to "escape" from prison and find out if his old mentor, Lung, has returned to crime. Ho refuses, so they get Kit to do it. However, when Ho finds out that Kit took his place, he changes his mind and agrees to go undercover. They discover that it isn't Lung that's counterfeiting the money through his shipyard though, its Ko, Lung's right hand man. Ko sets Lung up, forcing Lung to flee to New York, where he runs into Ken, Mark's twin brother. Ho and Kit continue the investigation into Ko and the shipyard, while Ken and Lung deal with Ko's men in New York. Eventually, they all meet up in Hong Kong to get revenge on Ko in one final climatic battle.

The plot for A Better Tomorrow II is pretty threadbare, and at times, is hard to follow. The relationships between the characters are a bit confusing, as Ho, Kit, and Ken all refer to Lung as "uncle," though not all of them knows each other. Ti Lung and Leslie Cheung are again both great in this movie; Chow Yun Fat's character is developed more and given more screen time in this one as well. Of course, the action scenes are great, especially the one at the end.

Picture:
A Better Tomorrow II is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. The print used is quite good for a film twelve years old, with a lot less noticeable grain when compared to A Better Tomorrow. There are some smaller marks throughout the film, but none as jarring as the two large marks that occur in chapter 25, one of which pauses the film for a brief second. Much like the first film, flesh tones appear accurate and the colors are mostly vibrant. Blacks are pretty good, a bit richer than those in A Better Tomorrow.

Sound:
A Better Tomorrow II is presented in Dolby Mono 2.0 in Cantonese and English. For the review, I listened to the Cantonese track and compared it to the English track during action scenes. The Cantonese track is more subdued and quiet; the English track is the way to go if you want more "kick" during the action scenes. However, the English dub is pretty horrid. Also, occasionally during the Cantonese track, the characters talk in un-subtitled and hard to understand English. Thankfully, this doesn't occur that much, but it is distracting. Most of the dialogue, with these exceptions, is clean and understandable.

Extras:
Extras include the Hong Kong trailer in Cantonese, the International trailer in English, and informative biographies for John Woo and Chow Yun Fat.

Summary:
Fans of John Woo and Chow Yun Fat should give both A Better Tomorrow I & II a chance, though the lack of a coherent plot may turn some off. It's a shame that the picture and audio presentations aren't better, but they get the job done. Recommended as a rental, if not a purchase.

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