A Better Tomorrow | 英雄本色 (1986): “..martial arts was never my thing, but I love films by John Woo..”

A Better Tomorrow

Photo credits: © 2020 Feargal Agard | HoFA

“A film that stands out for me is A Better Tomorrow (1986) which has been directed by John Woo. The story itself is about an ex-gangster who tries to reconcile with his brother, but he has difficulties breaking ties with his former gang. In any case, it stood out to me because when you are a young kid and you watch films, as an Asian person at the time to find a character to identify with. All the action heroes in movies were white. Then later I discovered the Hong Kong cinema with Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan with whom I could not really identify. Kung Fu and martial arts was never my thing, but I love films by John Woo. He had this wonderful character played by Chow Yun Fat in A better Tomorrow and he did not play just another action hero he was more of a special type of action hero. I mean as an actor he wasn’t the most attractive, he wasn’t fat but also not thin and he had these graceful movements on film. As a character, he wore a trenchcoat in Hong Kong where you aren’t supposed to because it’s hot and warm, but it looked so cool. He wore a suit with a tie and he had these wonderful sunglasses and a gun in each hand. Back then I thought, “now that’s a cool character that I can identify with versus a more stereotypical action hero.” In the end, it’s just very important to find some representation. An Asian character, actor, a person on screen to identify with. Otherwise, you would just have Arnold Schwarzenegger or James Bond.” – Léo Soesanto

Guest curator at CinemAsia | Programmer IFFR International Film Festival Rotterdam | Programmer Semaine de la Critique

Photo and story by Feargal Agard

The Film is also named: Ying hung boon sik |  英雄本色