A Better Tomorrow II (1987)

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The two brothers from each side of the law reunite to investigate a counterfeit ring that has framed an old comrade who has left his criminal past behind.
The original A Better Tomorrow was a watershed moment in the evolution of Hong Kong action movies, not to mention the genre as a whole. Unfortunately it was marred by a clumsy sentimentality that has dated the film rather badly and so it is with its sequel. Resurrecting Chow Yun Fat as his own twin brother is very much from the daytime soap opera school of script writing, as is Dean Shek’s mental breakdown complete with painfully over-ripe performance. But as with its predecessor, it is the action-packed finale that is the centrepiece of the film and John Woo certainly does not disappoint on this score; the last twenty minutes are a bullet-riddled feast of gun-toting machismo that clearly influenced both Quentin Tarantino – this scene actually features in True Romance – and the Wachowski brothers when they made The Matrix.
A Better Tomorrow II is rather clumsy and unsophisticated in its build up, but the climactic showdown is a must see for the action junkie and seems very much like the Beta version of the Woo epiphany that was Hard Boiled.

5.5/10

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