A Better Tomorrow II

A Better Tomorrow II

DVD Rating: **

Reviewed by: Paul Griffiths

Read Paul Griffiths's film review of A Better Tomorrow II

A release from John Woo’s back catalogue is always welcome, but with few features of interest here this is not the ‘special’ edition that collectors might have been hoping for. Perhaps this is not too disappointing following the disappointing ‘Ultimate Edition’ release of A Better Tomorrow last month.

At least that edition had a featurette on and interview with the director and an interview with star Chow Yun-Fat. Here an absence of anything from or about Woo or any of the main players leaves this disc with a sense of lacking that is hard to ignore.

Copy picture

The inclusion of the theatrical and disc release trailers is practically obligatory, as is the preview for the up and coming second sequel. The animated essay on all three is a simple point and click exercise with some sparse details on the trilogy as a whole and John Woo and Tsui Hark’s joint-workings, with a few drops of blood appearing as you read.

Most pleasing is the interview with Tsui Hark (Seven Swords, Once Upon A Time in China), who came up with story for Woo to screenplay. Clocking in at more than 20 minutes, Hark provides some insight into developing the idea for the sequel, getting the actors on board and then trying to get the production off the ground. He is most elucidating and equally elusive about his working (at times tempestuous) relationship with Woo. Annoyingly, every now and then the interview splits into two screens for no apparent reason.

There is no commentary to reinvigorate the release. This could really have done with Asian film buff Bey Logan rattling out facts and anecdotes.

A number of other Hong Kong Legends releases are also listed with trailers and specs: Hero Shed No Tears, Bullet In The Head, Once A Thief, The Killer, Dreadnought, Hapkido.

As for the feature there are serviceable Cantonese and English soundtracks. However, a comparison of the latter with the English subtitles shows some wild variation and some may find the plot easier to follow with the dubbed Westernised, version rather than the disjointed onscreen translations. The 5.1 sound certainly enhances the viewing experience during the action sequences but the picture quality is less consistent. Clean and clear the majority of the time, a textured grain creeps in every now and then and some exterior scenes are prone to a lot of black flecking.

The disc’s menus are animated in a nostalgically dated black and white, heavily pixellated fashion that is actually quite suited to the feel of the film.

Underwhelming on the whole; maybe HK Legends are filling time until a better Better Tomorrow 3.

Reviewed on: 09 Sep 2006
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A Better Tomorrow II packshot
John Woo’s 80s gun-toting, triad-splattering sequel.
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Product Code: CTD51029

Region: 2

Ratio: 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen

Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1 English, Dolby Digital 5.1 Cantonese, optional English subtitles

Extras: Tsui Hark interview, Trilogy of Blood animated essay, A Better Tomorrow 3 preview, UK disc promo trailer, theatrical trailer, further HK Legend releases

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