Here's five reasons why you should love John Woo's sequel to the heroic bloodshed classic A Better Tomorrow. I decided to do Part 2 because I think everything that can be said about the first one has been said so instead I'm going to concentrate on the second film. Goes without saying this column will contain spoilers then again if you're reading this blog and you haven't seen A Better Tomorrow, what the hell is wrong with you?!
Number Five: Comic Book Heroes
Ti Lung returns as his character Sung in the sequel and upon being released from prison he pays a visit to a friend who happens to be an artist. We see that the walls of his studio are adorned with artistic renderings of the three lead characters from the first film. I think this was John Woo's way of trying to convey to the audience that the action you see in these movies are so fantastical they could only take place in a comic book. Also, the artist must be psychic as how else would you explain the fact he was able to accurately recreate key events from the previous film?
Number Four: The Twins Effect
At the conclusion of the first film. Chow Yun-Fat's character Mark Gor was dead. You have to wonder how exactly Chow Yun-Fat reacted to the news he was going to be part of the sequel. I believe it could have gone something like this:
Woo: Okay, Chow. A Better Tomorrow was a huge success, you ready a make the sequel?
Chow: You Mean Prequel.
Woo: Nope. Sequel.
Chow: But...my character died at the end.
Woo: Not a problem. We have this idea where a scientist finds your corpse then brings you back to life as a cyborg assassin and goes out and kills bad guys.
Chow: Urm....I don't know about that.
Woo: Really? Ti Lung loved that idea. Okay, how about we bring you back as Mark's identical twin brother Ken.
Chow: It'll do. Just pay me and give me back my car keys.
Number Three: Apologize To The Rice!
In what is arguably one of the more memorable scenes in the film is the introduction of Ken. The twin brother of Mark. Here we see him standing up to the insults of an Italian Mafia heavy trying to lean on him for protection money. It's a great scene that does an excellent job of establishing the character.
Number Two: Blood on the Hardwood Floors
If it's one thing John Woo knows, it's good action. Having cut his teeth in film making by working under Shaw Brothers director Chang Cheh, Woo was able to take all the troupes of classical martial arts films and apply them to contemporary action films. Substituting fists with guns, he used all the same techniques they used and was able to adapt them with great affect. The final showdown which sees our heroes storm the bad guy's base is one of the finest action set pieces ever committed to film without a shadow of a doubt.
Number One: He's Not Crazy, He's Just Stupid
In what has to be one of the most bizarre film performances ever to be featured in a John Woo film. Dean Shek shows more ham then a butcher's shop window as a former gang boss turned legit businessman who suffers a severe mental breakdown when he experiences a series of traumatic events. Now any decent actor would have used the opportunity to carve out a really harrowing but at the same time nuanced performance. Unfortunately Dean decided to do the exact opposite and went full retard. His performance has to be seen to be believed as you would think he was playing someone who was mentally handicapped not mentally ill. Watch out for the truly unintentionally hysterically funny scene in which Chow Yun-Fat tries to force a dribbling Shek to eat some food. Absolutely hilarious stuff.