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Overall Rating
3.81

Awesome46.9%
Worth A Look: 15.04%
Just Average: 15.04%
Pretty Crappy: 18.58%
Sucks: 4.42%

6 reviews, 77 user ratings


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Better Luck Tomorrow
[AllPosters.com] Buy posters from this movie
by EricDSnider

"When Asian kids use their superpowers for evil instead of good."
4 stars

It is perversely fascinating to see a film about what those super-smart Asian kids in high school were REALLY like. "Better Luck Tomorrow" is satisfying in that way, but even without that curiosity factor, it is a wonderful, darkly funny look at wealthy, unsupervised youth.

Our hero and narrator is Ben (Parry Shen), a very smart but otherwise relatively normal upper-class high school student in a supernaturally sunny version of Southern California. He and his oversexed, uninhibited friend Virgil (Jason Tobin), along with Virgil's coolly dangerous cousin Han (Sung Kang) are involved in some petty white-collar theft, but that's kept to a minimum. Everything Ben does publicly, meanwhile, is carefully orchestrated to look good on the college applications. He organizes beach clean-ups, plays basketball, offers extra assistance during his job at a fast food place -- all to impress the admissions boards.

To that end, he also gets involved with the academic decathlon. The head of that club -- indeed, the head of all the clubs, and the B.M.O.C. -- is Daric (Roger Fan), another Asian boy with plenty of finances behind him. ("Don't let the letterman's jacket fool you," Ben tells us. "It's for tennis.") Daric runs a cheat-sheet scam and wants to bring Ben's expertise to the table. With Ben come Virgil and Han, of course, and soon the four are filthy rich, extremely popular, and snorting cocaine like it's oxygen. Grades -- originally the whole point of school for these guys -- begin to slip, and things spiral wildly out of control.

This is all shown in flashback, by the way, leading up to the first scene, in which Ben and Virgil hear a cellphone ringing from a corpse buried in the backyard. You may rest assured the boys knew of this body and its identity before they heard the phone ring.

Parry Shen is a revelation as Ben, full of charisma, good looks and acting talent to spare. The character remains somewhat aloof as his own life becomes a madhouse, but Shen never fails to engage as an actor. Given the right roles, he could be a big name.

I also like the Virgil character, who is as irrational as Ben is level-headed. One moment Virgil is ecstatic over the foursome having pulled a gun on someone; literally five seconds later, he is in tears about the same thing. He is all the conflicting emotions of teen-hood, packed into one volatile character.

Director Justin Lin (who also co-wrote the script and edited the film) is proficient and exciting, employing jolly camera work and overseeing some highly interesting visuals. He clearly has seen the works of Martin Scorsese and Jean-Luc Godard, and has internalized their fineset qualities. Kudos also to cinematographer Patrice Lucien Cochet, who makes sure only the basic Sunday-comics colors exist in this Southern California utopia.

Like his main character, though, Lin maintains a sort of distance from the proceedings. Though the movie is never dull even for a moment, it does feel longer than it is, due in large part to there not being a clear path of plot development. There is little sense of building toward something.

This actually works to Lin's advantage, though, because when something shocking happens near the end, it truly is shocking. There is no warning -- even though in retrospect, we're amazed we didn't see something like that coming. The characters' lives turn to immorality and evil almost imperceptibly, and the movie's trajectory is just as subtle. It is amusing and entertaining, and more than a little thought-provoking.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=5744&reviewer=247
originally posted: 02/07/02 17:00:49
[printer] printer-friendly format  
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2002 Sundance Film Festival. For more in the 2002 Sundance Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

9/07/10 PAUL SHORTT GRITTY, WELL MADE HIGH SCHOOL DRAMA 3 stars
7/31/07 Steve Newman Actually quite good - did not kow what to expect. Sky summary way of the mark - watch it 4 stars
1/12/07 Sugarfoot Brillant 5 stars
11/14/06 Bori whats with Han? Same character from Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift? 5 stars
10/19/06 ifyoufly HORRIBLE!!grating cliches in every scene...cigs,shades,skateboards,letter jackets,LADEEFNDA 1 stars
6/18/06 donald I'm SO TIRED of the "kid who have nothing to do but screw and do drugs and kill" genre. 1 stars
4/14/05 ELI fuuuuuuuuck! I don't understand anyone who doesn't like this movie. I LOVE IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
2/05/05 clinger26 crap spwaned from Sundance 1 stars
11/21/04 tina johnson Interesting ambitious Chinese high school students that later turn out to be gangsters. 3 stars
10/26/04 Ben Mr.Critic, To watch it and not noticing the actors were asian was the ENTIRE point u idiot. 4 stars
9/21/04 Mike Judelle Chan its so weird I hate it 2 stars
9/09/04 Sean Armenta disappointing 3 stars
7/24/04 DM Great for a debut, but still flawed 4 stars
7/20/04 matt shimizu soo good 5 stars
6/18/04 Jimbo I kept watching cuz I thought it was gonna get better 2 stars
5/10/04 Easy Bleezy pimp shit 5 stars
3/02/04 Michael Mungin Way too stylish, but i can't wait till Justin Lin finds his stride. 4 stars
2/25/04 susan lee the director is awesome guy... support asians in film 4 stars
1/19/04 stevo started off very well, but just got stupider and stupider 2 stars
1/01/04 Erin I love it,Jason Tobin is an awesome actor. 5 stars
11/17/03 autumn A.W.E.S.O.M.E. a MUST SEE! 5 stars
11/15/03 slim movie depicts real teenage azns, seen somethings they act out, performance very realistic. 5 stars
10/27/03 t For a commercial debut - this is classic, better than all the high school flicks in years 5 stars
10/24/03 Gabriel Tothe Totally realistic in it's expliotation of high school male agnst and it's ramifications 5 stars
9/30/03 Cindy unrealistic and dangerous! There are NO consequences for anyones actions in the whole film 1 stars
6/20/03 Sixteen Yoke of Oxygen Unflattering view of Asian-American community. And no distinct ending. 2 stars
6/06/03 Kai Loved this movie!! Jason U R such a sweetie I miss u!!!! 5 stars
5/20/03 Nancy N. When my 16-year-old and I both like the same movie, that's something 4 stars
5/12/03 GERNI YAMBAO OVERALL-VERY GOOD 4 stars
5/11/03 Z This movie is so real that its even scary. 5 stars
5/08/03 mike If anyone knows when the BLT FULL soundtrack is released, email me at KMmike13@aol.com 5 stars
5/04/03 Terry Loved it..I thought its very realistic..3-D characters! 5 stars
5/03/03 katsat Just not convincing, didn't buy any of the "bad stuff" for a second. 2 stars
5/02/03 maiya i loved it!! my friends and i thought it was a great movie =] 5 stars
5/02/03 Aimee Great film! 5 stars
5/01/03 lauren silly 1 stars
4/30/03 Jerry Great film! Definately makes a statement for the Asian film community 4 stars
4/29/03 Janise Parry Shen is gorgeous. I love him! 5 stars
4/28/03 Milly S. boring, disjointed plot, i wanted to leave! 2 stars
4/28/03 Stacy Great Movie!! 5 stars
4/28/03 Evan Thought-provoking and intense...it's a great movie... 5 stars
4/28/03 Viewer Totally UNREALISTIC and pointless 2 stars
4/28/03 d v 5 stars
4/19/03 Michael $50 if you do this by tomorrow 5 stars
4/19/03 Justine Lee Refreshing. Hilarious, Dark. Reflects well what can be seen at my high school. 4 stars
4/17/03 Dave Nguyen great movie 5 stars
4/16/03 hmb few sparks of creativity in a melange of over kinetic flash rendered ultimately shallow ... 3 stars
4/16/03 Sully click click BOOM 5 stars
4/15/03 nicole A thought provoking movie! Well acted and directed. 5 stars
4/14/03 d brilliant. thought-provoking. go see it. 5 stars
4/14/03 Jenny Funny and provocative. Embraces a certain part of teenage Asian-American angst. 5 stars
4/14/03 MattG This will be one of my favs for a looong time!!! 5 stars
4/13/03 einral A gripping story told from a different perspective. Bravo! 5 stars
4/13/03 Patricia Awesome, smart, artistic movie. Original in its script and real with its dialogue. Superb 5 stars
4/13/03 Leong Asians are making it in US film 5 stars
4/12/03 AngelBear Awesome movie! Blows the "model minority" sterotype out the window! 5 stars
4/12/03 Jesse Parsells what's the point of the film?... going for goofy comedy or over the top drama/ violence? 3 stars
4/08/03 jamie harris It was awesome! And Parry Shen his ssoooo HOTT!!!!!! 5 stars
4/05/03 joe budden Great action and drama 5 stars
4/03/03 Jesse Lin Excellent characters, great movie! Definitely worth watching... 5 stars
4/03/03 Amy It's a welcome change to the neatly packaged and highly predictable storylines of Hollywood 5 stars
4/02/03 Brandon Judell An ordeal to sit through. Well-meant though. 2 stars
3/30/03 Lyn Thet Enjoyable, interesting, look forward to his next movie 4 stars
3/21/03 John Andes go see this FILM!! 5 stars
3/18/03 David Lee Most Awesome Movie EVER!! 5 stars
1/31/03 T. S. Great Film! 5 stars
1/18/03 kevin yee Awesome 5 stars
12/27/02 deedo AWESOME! 5 stars
12/21/02 ShaolinMiddleFinger Great great movie 5 stars
10/10/02 Ricecakes Reminds me of my high school days... *sigh* memories this isthe asian "do the right thing" 5 stars
8/13/02 Sompathana Phitsanoukanh This will break all the barriers, and let in a flooded of more Asian Americans into movies! 5 stars
7/06/02 B-One Excellent movie! Two thumbs up! 5 stars
5/22/02 Tippy rather disturbing, even if not soley for the irk factor, definitely worth watching 4 stars
5/20/02 jtc kudos to justin 5 stars
5/17/02 Teresa Kao Geat ready for the Asian American century. 5 stars
4/27/02 Savina Goo This film shows Asian Amercians as real people. 5 stars
4/21/02 Kubrox Cliches + Asian Leads = Originality!? 2 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  11-Apr-2003 (R)

UK
  N/A

Australia
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Directed by
  Justin Lin

Written by
  Justin Lin

Cast
  Parry Shen
  Jason Tobin
  Roger Fan
  Sung Kang
  Karin Anna Chueng
  John Cho



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