A Better Tomorrow (1986)

Source: Kam & Ronson Enterprises: Blu-ray, 2016.

Year: 1986

Director: John Woo

Action Stars

Leslie Cheung

Ti Lung

Chow Yun-fat

Genre: Crime Film

Country: Hong Kong

Story Duration: 01:33:03

Act Duration:

1st Act: 00:24:18

2nd Act: 00:27:44

3rd Act: 00:20:16

4th Act: 00:20:45

Plot Turns:

1st: Tse Ho Captured

2nd: Tse Ho threatens Shing

3rd: Theft of tape

ASD Ratio: 43%

AAD Ratios:

1st Act: 45%

2nd Act: 27%

3rd Act: 40%

4th Act: 65%

Action Structure: 2314

Action Scenarios

Capture

Escape

Fall

Fight

Heist

Rescue

Pursuit

Speed

Total Action Moments: 29

1. The heroic bloodshed film and its dual wielded gun protagonist.
2. Leslie Cheung executing athletic roll to obtain pistol.
3. Kinetic choreography of bodies in motion.
4. Explosions as more “Hollywood than Hollywood” spectacle.
Action Structure

Notable Action Sequence: The Exchange

Duration: 00:13:04

Act: 4th

Action Scenarios:

Capture

Escape

Fall

Fight

Rescue

Speed

Description: A Better Tomorrow (1986) is often cited as the progenitor of the 1980s heroic bloodshed cycle that set the template for the films to come later in the production trend. Its final act set piece features all the stylistic traits that the cycle is known for, including featuring criminal protagonists. Leslie Cheung and Chow Yun-fat star as Sung Tse Kit and Mark Lee, two triad members who experience a reversal of fortune as a result of betrayal. The sequence also features the trademark style of gunplay associated with heroic bloodshed films, particularly characters wielding a gun in each hand [Figure 1]. Gunfights became ‘gun fu’ by incorporating the choreography of martial arts fight scenes in the shape of athletic dives, falls, and rolls [Figure 2]. As a result, gunfights in heroic bloodshed films manifested a heightened level of kineticism by featuring bodies in motion as characters avoided gunfire or became projectiles themselves through the force of bullets or the blasts of explosions [Figure 3]. The sequence also manifests a number of explosions, another trademark element of the heroic bloodshed film, stemming fortuitously from its setting that offers an abundance of barrels filled with petrol. In such ways, the film’s final act set piece is “more Hollywood than Hollywood” by amplifying the traits of the American gunfight scenario [Figure 4].

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