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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
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by Katsat

"... a world about as convincing as an Asian-American with an Afro."
2 stars

I was sorely disappointed with this movie. It starts off as a refreshingly real portrait of a much-neglected segment of American life - overachieving Asian teenagers - and it too quickly degenerates into a Boys N the Hood wannabe without the requisite talent, insight, or authenticity that would make it believable or at least entertaining.

Believe me, I know this kind of kid because I was pretty much one myself, and here in my middle class private school sphere in Hawaii I live among them everyday. I didn't buy for a second that the main character Ben could have done any of the criminal stuff that he did. Sorry, but he just ain’t the type, period. Plus REAL super achieving type kids work FULL-TIME on their achievements and wouldn't have a quarter of the time needed for their criminal activities. The only believable way they could have become Asian-American hoods would be if they started failing in school, but that wouldn't have made them cool enough, so they didn't.

So much of the story "We got popular, we got cool, we got respect" was shown by the lazy and facile voice-over, not through actually showing us that it was true onscreen.

And where were their parents? These kids looked like they lived in a parent-less universe. This kind of kid has parents in their face ALL the time. That's a major reason they're such overachievers.

But beyond that, the actors, especially Ben, just couldn't convey the immorality/boredom/meanness necessary to be that bad. The acting is pretty mediocre. With the exception of the convincingly unstable Virgil character, I never got the feeling that they were real and not just actors mouthing the script. Ben could just as well have been bummed out about getting a B-plus on an exam, as been upset about a murder. Ben's attack of conscience was little more than the screwing up of a couple eyebrows. There was so little character development, that I didn't learn anything deep about any of the characters that I didn't already know after the first 20 minutes of the movie.

I know the film was made on a shoestring budget, but even small, independent movies can ring true.

One thing that greatly puzzles me is the praise heaped on this film, from critics to kids I know (overachieving Asian American high school seniors themselves). Perhaps the critics like the film for the way it turns upside down the stereotype of the model minority, and they feel politically generous and self-congratulatory for being hip enough to give the Asians some praise for something other than kung fu, violin or a Nobel Physics Prize. And maybe those kids like it because they saw for just about the first time on the big screen, people who look like them and with whom they could closely identify and vicariously play out their gangsta fantasies.

There's the germ of a good movie here, a definitive look at the world of the teenage model minority and what makes them tick and what could push them over the edge. Unfortunately, the filmmakers take a wrong turn much like the film's anti-heroes, and descend into a world about as convincing as an Asian-American with an Afro.

I went into this movie expecting a gritty, slice-of-life-gone-bad gem, and instead got a amateurish, disappointing misfire of a film that wants to be something it can only imitate.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=5744&reviewer=76
originally posted: 05/05/03 00:50:06
[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
  N/A


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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