Slow-Motion Gunplay

I’ve now watched my first Hong Kong John Woo movie, A Better Tomorrow. Overall, I’m impressed.

A Better TomorrowIt’s about two mafia friends who get involved in a disastrous situation, after which one is crippled and the other serves three years in jail. The ex-con spends the rest of the movie trying to go legit, while the crippled guy wants revenge, and the ex-con‘s brother (who’s a cop) is hell-bent on re-convicting the ex-con. So it’s no comedy.

John Woo is famous for his slow-motion gunplay, and while that was certainly excellent, I was more struck at the clarity of his gunfights. It’s always clear who’s shooting at whom, who’s in danger, and who’s just run out of bullets. The editing never muddies the action. And he’s pretty realistic with ammo, too; handguns run out of bullets quickly.

I also appreciated the surprisingly tight plot. The plot wasn’t just an excuse to let guys shoot at each other; the movie has a lot to say about violence and the choices we make in our lives. Even the flashy slow-motion gunfights have nasty consequences.

The acting is generally good, and Chow Yun Fat deserves an Emmy. He plays the cool assassin who’s crippled partway in, and he plays a wide range of emotion with complete truth. He’s driven to rage and desperation by all that’s happened to him, which makes him a wonderfully interesting character because he’s not a bad guy. Heck, he’s one of the “good guys,” until he’s consumed by his desire for revenge.

So, a good film, and definitely worth watching.


Gret Sounds interesting, I wouldn’t mind watching this at a GNO.

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