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Better Luck Tomorrow

A movie directed by Justin Lin

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One of my favorites

  • Apr 13, 2011
  • by
This has always been one of my favorite movies. I think it's easy to overlook a movie like this because one might think, 'oh it's just about some Asians'. Sure that part is true, the cast is mainly Asian-American but the movie could have easily been made with any other ethnic group, but this movie is loosely based on a true story which makes it even more intriguing. Some Asians and Asian-Americans were outraged because they believed that the movie painted a negative image of Asians, but once again, this is loosely based on a true story. One would be naive to think that the 'model minority' would be involved with some of the things shown in this movie: drugs, stealing and (SPOILER!), murder.

As mentioned in the previous paragraph, the model minority concept plays a major role in the film. All of the characters do exceptionally well in school, are involved in as many school related activities as possible and do all of the things that a 'good student' would do. The main character, played by Perry Shen, mentions at the start of the film that their good grades were their 'ticket to freedom'. It's a known fact that the vast majority of Asian parents want you to bring home those outstanding report cards and if you do, do whatever you want. And that's what the characters in the movie end up doing and none of the parents are actually ever shown. 

The characters in the film vary in personality and are equally fascinating. The main character, Ben, is obsessive compulsive until he makes some changes, his best friend childish but highly intelligent, his love interest is adopted and is constantly looking for approval and acceptance and the antagonist (for lack of something better to call him) is spoiled and ungrateful. 

The choices that the individuals make in the movie, causes them to become more distant to the whole model minority stereotype and really helps the viewer understand that there's no turning back for them, hence the name of the film "Better Luck Tomorrow". 

Towards the end of the film, there is a very powerful scene that is uncomfortable to watch and from what I've read about the story that the movie was based on, was pretty accurate in terms of what really happened.  And once it's all done, the hole that they have dug themselves into appears to be endless.

I highly recommend this movie to anyone, not just Asian-Americans. The director Justin Lin does an excellent job of telling the story and making the viewer understand the impact some decisions have on a person's life. 

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April 14, 2011
Agreed, so this is the review that inspired Charley to write his own. Excellent. I am not sure, I know Lin was supposed to have been scheduled to direct the American remake of Oldboy. Thanks for sharing!
April 14, 2011
Thanks! I remember reading about that too, I think it was like a Lin and Will Smith??? team-up? Interesting combo.
April 14, 2011
A fine review that made me remember what an outstanding movie this is. I hope you don't mind that I immediately wanted to add my thoughts about it. The movie drew me in and encouraged me to think as well as to feel.
April 14, 2011
Thanks for reading, I'm glad there's other people who really appreciate this amazing film. I'm gonna hop on over and read yours too!
More Better Luck Tomorrow reviews
review by . April 14, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Thoughtful and disturbing, with a fine performance by Parry Shen
It's a hot Southern California afternoon at the start of Better Luck Tomorrow. Two high school students, smart, from affluent families, are sitting in lawn chairs in the back yard of a home. They are Ben Manibag (Parry Shen) and his best friend, Virgil Hu (Jason Tobin). A cell phone rings. Ben checks and it's not his. Virgil looks at his phone; it's not his. The phone keeps ringing and the two look at each with increasing panic. They run to a section of the backyard and press their ears …
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Peter Kim ()
Ranked #170
I love basketball, exercise, reading, business, movies and occasionally some brainless reality TV shows =P I am more than happy to help anyone out with anything here on Lunch and definitely looking forward … more
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About this movie


Better Luck Tomorrow is a 2002 crime-drama film directed by Justin Lin. The movie is about Asian American overachievers who become bored with their lives and enter a world of petty crime and material excess. Better Luck Tomorrow introduced Karin Anna Cheung to film audiences and a cast including Parry Shen, Jason Tobin, Sung Kang, Roger Fan, and John Cho.

The film was based loosely on the murder of Stuart Tay by four Sunny Hills High School honor students on December 31, 1992, in the suburb of Fullerton, California.

In its first ever film acquisition, MTV Films eventually acquired Better Luck Tomorrow after it debuted at The Sundance Film Festival. After meeting at the National Association of Broadcasters convention in Las Vegas, Nevada in April 2001, MC Hammer (credited as a producer) provided the much needed funding to the filmmaker Justin Lin for this film. The director said, "Out of desperation, I called up MC Hammer because he had read the script and liked it. Two hours later, he wired the money we needed into a bank account and saved us."

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Director: Justin Lin
Genre: Crime, Drama
MPAA Rating: R
Screen Writer: Justin Lin, Ernesto Foronda
Runtime: 101 min
First to Review

"One of my favorites"
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