This reviewer admits to being skeptical when first hearing all the praise heaped on “BETTER LUCK TOMORROW”. Other than “THIRTEEN” there have been very few decent films dealing with youth at any age. And, then hearing “BETTER LUCK TOMORROW” is a “MTV” production, certainly doesn’t make it sound all that much better.
The film’s story revolves around four Asian High School kids living in Orange County, California. All four are extremely bright and looking forward to proving themselves further when in college. Thinking ahead, they’re turning up the heat on their extra curricular activities to make themselves look even more attractive for potential colleges. However, working with this goal leads them to designing cheat sheets, which in turn, leads them to other unethical activities followed by one negative event after another. In less capable hands then of the Director Justin Lin, “A BETTER TOMORROW” could have turned into looking like some “after school special”, but instead, it’s gripping, original and great! Sure, there are some cliché’s(one of the character’s drug use is evident via frequent nosebleeds), but cliché’s are based on fact, and “A BETTER TOMORROW” exposes a world that exists, and that most parents don’t want to acknowledge.
Lin’s film speeds along at a neck-breaking pace, with a rare kinetic energy that never loses the viewer. “BETTER LUCK TOMORROW” leaves the audience eagerly awaiting Lin’s next film.
PARAMOUNT has preserved the film’s 1.85:1 aspect ratio, with 16:9 enhancement. Colors are solid, and often vibrant. Grain is problematic at times, making night scenes less detailed than we’d prefer. Still, it’s a generally sharp image. Fleshtones appear natural.
PARAMOUNT has provided a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix for this release. Surprisingly, there’s little in the way of separation, especially when considering how much it would’ve enhanced the exciting visual scheme. However, surrounds boost the great score, and the bass is effectively prominent throughout much of the film.
PARAMOUNT has included an audio commentary with the film’s director and co-writers. It’s a great track, offering plenty of insight on both a technical and aesthetic level. Unfortunately, there’s no trailer.