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Trivia / A Better Tomorrow

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  • B-Team Sequel: The third film was a prequel directed by Tsui Hark, due to a falling out with John Woo.
  • Breakthrough Hit: For John Woo.
  • Completely Different Title: The film was known in the original Chinese as Ying Huang Boon Sik, or "True Colors of a Hero." In English, it's known as A Better Tomorrow.
  • Creative Differences: John Woo fell out with producer Tsui Hark over the tone of the second film. They would part ways afterwards.
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  • Dawson Casting: In the second film, Lung Si is meant to be an older, retired crime boss who had previously employed Sung Tse-Ho. In reality, Lung Ti is nearly four years older than Dean Shek.
  • Descended Creator: John Woo played the bespectacled detective in the first film.
  • Duelling Movies: John Woo had no involvement with A Better Tomorrow III, so he made The Killer. The third one is a prequel that competed with Woo's film Bullet in the Head.
  • Enforced Method Acting: Chow Yun-fat was almost blown up when the mansion explosion was a bit more powerful than anticipated. His reaction is real.
  • Executive Meddling: The second film was recut against John Woo's wishes.
  • Missing Trailer Scene: The five and a half minutes long Hong Kong trailer for the second film is the only source to see glimpses of some deleted scenes; Blood covered Kit being brutally beaten up, Kit seeing his wife while still having injuries from the beating on his face, Ken and Lung playing with the bird.
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  • Old Shame: John Woo disowned A Better Tomorrow II, with the exception of the final gun battle.
  • Playing Against Type: All three main actors played outside their comfort zones. Leslie Cheung was a well-known pop star (in fact, he sings the theme to the movie), Ti Lung was best known for his work in kung fu movies and Chow Yun-fat (even though he had made some movies) was a popular TV soap actor.
  • Playing Their Own Twin: Chow Yun-fat as Mark and Ken, though not in the same film.
  • Reality Subtext: The scene in which Mark Lee tells the story of being forced to drink urine is apparently based on a real incident involving Chow Yun-fat and director Ringo Lam, according to Bey Logan on the DVD Commentary. This scene was recreated in John Woo's Bullet in the Head.
  • The Red Stapler:
    • This film became so popular, that kids in Hong Kong started wearing long coats, known as "dusters" to copy Mark.
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    • Chow Yun-fat wore Alain Delon sunglasses in the movie. After the movie, Hong Kong was sold out of Alain Delon's sunglasses. Delon sent Chow a personal thank you note.
  • Star-Making Role: Chow Yun-fat as Mark Gor in the first film. Despite not actually being the main protagonist, his cool appearance and charismatic performance led to his breakout popularity, and would launch his Hong Kong film career.
  • Troubled Production:
    • The second film had this. John Woo and producer Tsui Hark disagreed on the focus of the film. Tsui felt that the film should focus more on Lung, while Woo's original version focused more on characters Ken and Kit. Hark also insisted that the film should be shortened to a commercially viable length, which in Hong Kong is considered under 120 minutes, so theatre owners could show the film at least eight times a day. Woo refused to cut the film down and when he and Hark couldn't agree about the focus of the film and how it should be re-edited, Hark went and started secretly re-editing the film himself, since he had equal control with the editing of the film along with three other editors (Woo being the fifth editor). At the same time when Hark would cut some parts out Woo would went and also secretly put the missing parts back in. With only a week remaining before movie was to be released in theaters, and with pressure from the studio and distributors to trim the film down, Woo and Hark agreed to send the movie to "Cinema City Editing Unit", which meant that they sent each reel of the film to one of Cinema City's editors, who would then go to work on his particular reel. There was no overall supervision whatsoever by either Woo or Hark. Each of these editors just cut things out as they saw fit, then they returned the reels. What they came up with is now the official released version of the film.
    • The film was also notorious for stunt mishaps. Chow Yun-fat was almost blown up when the explosion outside the mansion door being more powerful than expected. Some of his hair was singed, and he was blasted forward. The shot in the film is his real reaction. Director Ronny Yu was the stunt double in the warehouse scene. He wrenched his back after slipping on water puddle while carrying Dean Shek. Also the stuntman for Leslie Cheung who performed the speedboat jump landed incorrectly and broke his foot.
  • You Look Familiar: In addition to Chow Yun-fat playing his own twin brother in A Better Tomorrow II, Shing Fui-on plays a different heavy in both films.


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