A Better Tomorrow (2010)
“A Better Tomorrow” is a remake of the 1986 Hong Kong film “A Better Tomorrow”. This film is a co-production between South Korea, Hong Kong and Japan including John Woo who is the director of this Hong Kong film.
Kim Hyuk (Joo Jin Mo) lived as a high ranking mobster in the port city of Busan, South Korea. His closest friend is Lee Young Choon (Song Seung Heon). However, Kim Hyuk has a horrible memory: he left his younger brother, Kim Chul (Kim Kang Woo) and mother while they try to flee into South Korea from North Korea. Kim Hyuk’s mother was beaten to death and Kim Chul was imprisoned after they were caught by the North Korean authorities.
Kim Hyuk went to Thailand with his new gang member, Jung Tae Min (Jo Han Seon), to meet with the Thai gangsters. Suddenly, it turns out to be a set-up which is planned by Tae Min. Kim Hyuk is able to escape but he is caught by the Thai police and imprisoned. After Young Choon hears what happened to Kim Hyuk in Thailand, he decides to get revenge by killing the Thai boss. During the shootout, Young Choon is shot in the leg. Three years later, Kim Hyuk is released and returns to Busan. He finds that his friend, Young Choon is washing cars and has a limp leg. Tae Min becomes the gangster boss. Currently, Kim Chul works for the Busan Police Department and aims to take down the gang by catching Tae Min. While Tae Min determines to take Kim Chul out, Kim Hyuk goes back into the gangster world to seek his revenge.
I like how the story and characters are developed at a slow and steady pace. I get the idea of each character’s side stories which all linked together as one big picture. For example, all eyes were mostly on Kim Hyuk who has a harsh past and has to get in good terms with Kim Chul. I understand how Kim Hyuk has to go through hard times in overcoming his weaknesses while obstacles come in his way. Meanwhile, Young Choon is always there for Kim Hyuk. Throughout this film, other than the fighting action scenes, I spotted easily the sense of brotherhood and bromance among Kim Hyuk, Kim Chul, and Young Choon. Then, I hate Tae Min a lot even though he is the bad guy. He is so annoying that I really want to take something and throw at him. Even though he acts like he knows everything, but he’s a total loser to me. So, I have characters that I love and hate.
At the beginning of the film, it was great. However, when it’s during the middle till the very end of this film, I was really disappointed for two reasons. (1) I felt that there are some things that is missing in this film. I didn’t actually feel connected with this film. Yes, there are action scenes but something is missing. It’s like there’s not enough sugar in the coffee. (2) There are way too much clichés. Probably because I’ve seen a lot of action films that I knew something are going to happen. Even in the shooting scenes, I exactly know what’s going to pop up next. I understand that it’s supposed to be a remake of the Hong Kong version but still this Korean film lacks a bit of originality.
For me, I still prefer the Hong Kong version film. In this Korean film, I do love how the characters are explored. I do love how the storyline goes on. However, there are way too much clichés and lack of spices. It’s stagnant and it’s not going anywhere in getting better for this one.