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Category:    Home > Reviews > Martial Arts Cycle > A Better Tomorrow I & II set

A Better Tomorrow I and II

 

†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† ††††Picture:†††† Sound:†††Extras:†††Film:

A Better Tomorrow†††††††† ††C††††††††† C††††††††† ††D††††††† ††B+††

A Better Tomorrow II†††† C††††† ††††C††††††††† †††D††††††† ††B

 

 

When it comes to a John Woo film you can pretty much expect a few things.One, of course, is his signature over-the-top gun battles, and the second is a bland narrative that fills the space in between those battles.Indeed, Woo has become better with this and some of his finer pictures post Hong Kong are his most recent.Windtalkers was grossly underrated and Paycheck was such a mixed bag since it border lined Minority Report and while the direction of that film was better than Spielberg, it still proves that Ridley Scottís Blade Runner is the only film that knew how to handle Philip K. Dickís material.

 

When going back to some of his earlier films such as 1986ís A Better Tomorrow and itís sequel A Better Tomorrow II released two years later, you can instantly see an immature filmmaker giving it his all.Both films are pretty raw with many flaws, but their importance derives more in their influence on the action genre from that point on.

 

Woo was even able to take it up a notch with the sequel and allow for better staging, more money, and just a better overall production.Then with The Killer and Hard Boiled essentially took the foundation laid by A Better Tomorrow and went all out.Action films date really poorly in most cases, meaning that with time they rarely hold up.Even the best action films can become dull over time, but that is what distinguishes the better filmmakers who realize this inevitable fact and therefore do not rest all of the films material around that action.

 

Bigger is not always better, but there are some instances where technology has been able to improve what at one point in time was impossible.When watching action filled movies like this you can see where the material becomes almost comical because they pushed the limits of realism.It is said that Sam Peckinpah was the first director to make fight sequences poetic, so if that statement holds true, than John Woo was the first director to make those poetic sequences a bit rougher.By adding a harder texture to the film action movies took a new direction and became more interested not with just over-the-top stylish action scenes that are blatantly glossed over, but instead moved in a direction that embraced the flawed sequences of bullets going everywhere, blood covering everything, and even the good guy runs out of ammo.

 

Both films are now available on the DVD format in a 2-Disc set, with both films containing anamorphically enhanced 1.85 X 1 original aspect ratio transfers.The age of the film is evident with the transfer with more grain and debris than one would expect or like.Not only that, but there are a few frames with major amounts of damage, which is not a good sign!Even the original 2.0 mono is thin and adds no depth to the film.Oddly enough the menus for the DVDís are in 5.1 Dolby Digital mixes, which would have been a nice addition for the films.There are three audio choices, all of which are mono, and that includes the Cantonese, Mandarin, and English tracks.

 

Aside from the trailers, there are no extras, but Woo fans will be happy about their arrival onto DVD, but techies will be disappointed with the fair treatment given that the film looks and sounds even more dated than the material!Yikes!

 

 

-†† Nate Goss


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