A contemporary cop and gangster action drama burdened with an excess of practically everything except sex, A Better Tomorrow is a contrived bang-bang thriller with overdone violence and bloodshed.
Chow Yun-fat, the glamor boy who’s no longer afraid of being ugly, and perennial teenager Leslie Cheung, who at 30 looks like an overaged spoiled youth imprisoned in a mature body, both overact in this one. But Ti Lung shines in his comeback role as he maintains a silent masculine presence and believably underplays his portrayal of a reformed ex-gangster. He has laced his portrayal with inner strength and vulnerability, despite his overdressed look. The trio make a formidable team of urban misfits.
It’s a fine vehicle for the return from Taiwan of ex-Golden Harvest contract director John Woo who evidently has changed his style from light comedy to the ‘macho’ genre. Film is about two brothers in conflicting roles, the outlaw and the cop. Kit (Cheung) is a dedicated policeman who blames his elder brother (Ti Lung) for their father’s death and for obstructing his career in the police force.
Mark (Chow) is Ti Lung’s ex-associate also betrayed by jealous subordinate Waise Lee in the counterfeit syndicate. After serving a jail term in Taiwan, repentant Ti Lung returns to Hong Kong to lead a new life. He realizes soon enough a man with a past will have difficulties adjusting to a normal life.