A Better Tomorrow 2
Manadrin title: Ying Hung Boon Sik 2 (True Colors of a Hero 2)
AKA: City Wolf 2
Golden Princess, 1987, 100 min.
Director: John Woo
Stars: Chow Yun-Fat ("Ken"), Ti Lung ("Ho"), Leslie Cheung ("Kit"), Dean Shek ("Lung")
Producer: Tsui Hark
Script: Tsui Hark
Screenplay: John Woo
Cinematographer: Wong Wing-Hang
Editing: Cinema City Editing Unit
Available on video (letterboxed and subtitled) from Tai Seng
Available on DVD from Media Asia - a review can be found here
Some .WAV files from A Better Tomorrow 2 -- courtesy of CYF: The Coolest Actor in the World
Clip #1 ("Open your f*cking mouth and eat the rice! Eat it!!")
Clip #2 ("No, no, no, no... sorry" *BLAM*)
Clip #3 ("That's better...much better.")
Clip #4 ("Your fried rice stinks!")
Download Leslie Cheung's ballad from A Better Tomorrow 2 (2.99 MB MP3 file)
File courtesy of A Website Never Dies
"Why does it take so long for someone to go straight?"
At the end of A Better Tomorrow, Ho is captured by the cops and sent to prison. In ABT2, Ho is offered early parole if he works with the police to take down a crime boss named Lung. Since Lung gave Ho his start in the "business," he refuses out of loyalty to his former boss. However, once he finds out his brother Kit (who is now married, with a child on the way) has taken the case, he reverses his decision and takes the job.
After Lung is framed for the murder of another crime boss, he escapes to New York, where he ends up in a sanitarium after learning of his daughter's death. He is eventually nursed back to health by Ken, who is Mark's (from ABT1) twin brother. Ken is a former gangster trying to go straight, but when he learns of Lung, Ho and Mark's relationship, he decides to back to Hong Kong with Lung. The four friends join forces to get revenge, leading up to a high-powered, blood-spattered finale.
While not as powerful as the first film, ABT2 is still a high-powered crime drama with incredible gunfights. I think most of the problems in the film come from the fact that ABT became so synonymous with gunfights that the realtionships Woo wanted to stress became lost in the shuffle, so he kind of over-compensated for it in ABT2 by developing the characters more fully. While there is nothing wrong with dramatics, I think the beginning of the film is too slow and really only appeals to fans of the first film (though the famous "rice" scene where Ken force-feeds a local gangster is great). I also think the whole "twin" angle is kind of stupid and undermines the credibility of the story, and some scenes come off as really melodramatic (even when compared to some other Hong Kong movies). The final half of the film, where the plot really starts to move, is pure Woo all the way and quite enjoyable to watch. Though not his best work, ABT2 is still definetly above-average and worth watching.
- The original cut for ABT2 ran about 130 minutes; most of the cuts for the 110-minute release came in the early part of the film (some European versions run about 95 minutes, with much of the bloodshed cut).
- A rumor surrounding ABT2 was that Woo didn't initially want to make it, but was "convinced" by the Triad (who apparently made a lot of money off of ABT). In response to this (and other rumors about Triad involvement in his films), Woo has said "They have never knocked on my door...I think a lot of people who had mob trouble...were already corrupt people. If you let the mobsters know you are straight, they will treat you with respect" [from Asian Pop Cinema (c) 1999 Chronicle Books]. A more realistic theory is that Woo's old friend Dean Shek (who was the one who introduced Woo to Tsui Hark) asked Woo to make the movie. Shek had helped Woo out when he was stuggling in the early 80's by giving him work on films (Shek was one of the heads of the Cinema City studio). Woo says in Hong Kong Action Cinema [© 1995 Overlook Press] that "Dean Shek was having a lot of financial problems at this time, and as we were all friends, we agreed to make A Better Tomorrow 2 to help him out."
- The "black suits with skinny ties" look that the heroes adopt near the end was inspired by Le Samourai. The look would later be used in other films, most notably Reservoir Dogs.
- In True Romance, Alabama and Clarence can be seen watching ABT2 on TV.
- Both John Woo and Tusi Hark had a hand in editing the film, but neither knew what the other was doing, and, as such, their cuts ended up being incomprenhensible with each other; the film was eventually handed over over to the the studio for final editing. Woo had this to say about the editing process: "There was a kind of a rush. The first cut was...over three hours...the studio wanted to release only two hours, so we had to cut out a lot. And there was so little time that it was being edited by five different people. And I never got a chance to take a look at the whole thing before showing it to the public...there were some things that I really liked that had been left out...the style was a little rough. So there are only pieces of it that I really like" [Asian Pop Cinema].
- After ABT2 was released, John Woo was disgusted and called it "the worst film ever made," mostly due to the clashes he had with producer Tsui Hark. The bad blood which began on this film would later lead to a breakup of the duo's partnership.
- The final battle took three weeks to film, and has one of the highest body counts per minute of any film ever made.
- The shot where Lung is sprayed in the face with a hose by a little girl is inspired by one of the first short films ever created, the Lumiere brothers' Watering the Gardener (aka The Sprinkler Spinkled).
- Ken Gor's expression after he uses the grenades outside the mansion (see the movie poster above) has puzzled many people. It turns out the exposive charges were too strong and part of Chow Yun-Fat's hair caught fire. Woo noticed this, but kept rolling, which caused Chow to yell out "Out of his mind!" after "cut" was yelled.
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