Monday, July 25, 2011


One of the all-time great entertainment experiences is seeing over-the-top acting, humongous-ego histrionics, and operatic mega-violence at a movie theatre.
So you can probably well-imagine that half the audience at the 金都戲院 wet their panties when seeing the 1987 action adventure A Better Tomorrow 2.

After it was over, we went into the night time air and headed up Columbus back to Broadway. We were not the equals of the tough guys in the movie, but we never-the-less felt inspired and alive.

英雄本色 2

Honour, revenge, and all the finest Cantonese values.
Nearly one hundred people get shot in a climactic gun battle the main point of which might well be gallantry, but by then you are already so foaming at the mouth from the sheer excitement of this rock-em sock-em gangster opera that you probably didn't notice.

Directed by John Woo (吴宇森).
Produced by Tsui Hark (徐克).
Starring Chow Yun-fat (周潤發) as Ken, Dean Shek Tien (石天) as Lung si, Ti Lung (狄龍) as Sung Tse-ho, and Leslie Cheung (張國榮) as his brother Sung Tse-kit.

Rice is my family
The scene in which Chow Yun-Fat proves that he's as mean-crazy a New Yorker as they come.
"You don't like my rice? You don't like my rice?!? Eat the rice!"

A Better Tomorrow II - Hotel Shootout
Ken and Lung shoot their way out of a residential hotel.

"There's only one way out. I want you to fight by my side. If we don't fight... ... we'll both die here. If we win, we'll start all over again."

[Update 03/10/2012: the original clip disappeared from youtube, so you'll have to watch Chow Yun-fat speaking German. Yeah, I know, weird.   Imagine John Wayne and the Cartwrights in German. "zo, boss, wir gehen zerug nach ranch, ja?" "Ja, also denn." " Es iz doch affengeil." "Mensch!"]

It's not surprising that this became a cult film. But it's a bit disturbing that most of its non-Chinese fans do not grasp the ethical warp and woof of Cantonese Gangster movies in general, and this film in particular.

An article well worth reading on this subject is here:
"The Films of John Woo and the Art of Heroic Bloodshed"

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