BETTER LUCK TOMORROW

Content -3
Quality
None Light Moderate Heavy
Language        
Violence        
Sex        
Nudity        

Release Date: April 11, 2003

Starring: Parry Shen, Jason Tobin, Sung
Kang, Roger Fan, John Cho, and
Jerry Mathers

Genre: Drama

Audience: Adults REVIEWER: Katherine
Makinney BETTER LUCK TOMORROW
is a dark, foreboding tale
about four over-achieving
Asian teenagers gone awry.
What's different about the
movie is that the subjects are
Asian, affluent and living in
Orange County in Southern
California. Ben, the narrator
and central character of the
story (Parry Shen), is gifted
intellectually, ambitious, and
certainly headed toward an Ivy
League education. He is doing
everything required for a top
tier college application:
daily memorizing an SAT
vocabulary word, daily
basketball practice,
organizing community events,
and the Academic Decathlon. It
is this latest exercise in
personal application that
introduces him to Virgil, Han
and Daric. These three other
Asian teenagers much like
himself will become his
partners in a series of petty
crimes that quickly devolve
into actions much more severe
and dangerous. The charm of
the script is in its deftly
drawn and engaging characters.
Ben is a blank slate, a boy
unsure regarding who he is but
quite sure what's expected.
His three partners are:
Virgil, the dangerously
unstable spark plug; Daric,
the aspiring Big Man on
Campus; and, Han, the brooding
and laconic observer. Each of
these characters is well acted
by Parry Shen, Jason Tobin,
Roger Fan, and Sung Kang,
respectively. As the four draw
closer in their drinking and
competition during the
decathlon, they devise ways to
outsmart the system. They're
each so bored with the ease of
their success and movement
towards a future charted out
before they were born, that
the idea of the dark side
excites them. The filmmaker,
Justin Lin, claims that he was
able to draw together a
talented team because of the
reality of the story. Lin
implies that this is the truth
of today's youth: lost in a
sea of post modernist mud in
which right or wrong are just
words and the only thing that
really matters is material
success. The boys rush from
selling cheat sheets, to
stealing computer chips from
the school and selling them on
the black market, to
intimidation, and ultimately
murder. This genre of film
has almost become the standard
for emerging filmmakers to
"make a statement" that will
catapult their careers. From
Tarentino with RESERVOIR DOGS
and Scorsese with MEAN
STREETS, it is supposed to be
edgy to create a world in
which young lives are
destroyed by lack of meaning
and purpose. Lin, however,
wrings a story that is both
interesting in its
contradictions (good Asian
student criminals) and
involving in its predictable
twists. Lin has evidently
studied the best of the
helmers that came before him.
He employs a variety of
techniques from camera work to
flash frames to give the piece
its kinetic energy. However,
the very low budget reveals
itself from time to time in
awkward angles and cuts that
would have been left for a
re-shoot in a large budget
production. This is not a
movie that will make you feel
good to be an American or
inspire you to higher heights.
The premise of the movie may
have truth in it: today's
youth may have been led down a
primrose path to nowhere, but
the pic offers no solution.
Only that bad language, drug
and alcohol use, and a
shocking lack of parental
presence are standard fare on
high school campuses today, so
get used to it. It's for these
reasons that we don't
recommend this movie for
discerning viewers. Please
address your comments
to: Sherry Lansing,
Chairman Motion Picture
Group Paramount Pictures A
Paramount Communications
Company 5555 Melrose
Avenue Los Angeles, CA
90038-3197 Phone: (323)
956-5000 Website:
www.paramount.com

Rating: R

Runtime: 101 minutes

Distributor: Paramount Pictures

Director: Justin Lin

Executive Producer:

Producer: Justin Lin, Ernesto M. Foronda
and Julie Asato EXECUTIVE
PRODUCERS: Gustavo Spoliansky
and Michael Manshel

Writer: Ernesto M. Forondo, Justin Lin
and Fabian Marquez

Address Comments To:

Content:

(HH, LLL, V, SS, A, DD, MM) Humanist nihilistic worldview; 118 obscenities and 8 profanities; two scenes of men beating up man and one scene of suffocating a man to death; one scene of fornication as the protagonist loses his virginity with a prostitute; alcohol, smoking and drug use; and, criminal activities.

HH

LLL

V

SS

A

DD

MM

Summary:

BETTER LUCK TOMORROW is a dark, foreboding tale about four over-achieving Asian teenagers in America gone wrong. The movie offers no solutions or redemptive possibilities to counteract its nihilistic view of a world in which young lives are destroyed by lack of meaning and purpose.

Review:

BETTER LUCK TOMORROW is a dark, foreboding tale about four over-achieving Asian teenagers gone awry. What's different about the movie is that the subjects are Asian, affluent and living in Orange County in Southern California.

Ben, the narrator and central character of the story (Parry Shen), is gifted intellectually, ambitious, and certainly headed toward an Ivy League education. He is doing everything required for a top tier college application: daily memorizing an SAT vocabulary word, daily basketball practice, organizing community events, and the Academic Decathlon. It is this latest exercise in personal application that introduces him to Virgil, Han and Daric. These three other Asian teenagers much like himself will become his partners in a series of petty crimes that quickly devolve into actions much more severe and dangerous.

The charm of the script is in its deftly drawn and engaging characters. Ben is a blank slate, a boy unsure regarding who he is but quite sure what's expected. His three partners are: Virgil, the dangerously unstable spark plug; Daric, the aspiring Big Man on Campus; and, Han, the brooding and laconic observer. Each of these characters is well acted by Parry Shen, Jason Tobin, Roger Fan, and Sung Kang, respectively.

As the four draw closer in their drinking and competition during the decathlon, they devise ways to outsmart the system. They're each so bored with the ease of their success and movement towards a future charted out before they were born, that the idea of the dark side excites them.

The filmmaker, Justin Lin, claims that he was able to draw together a talented team because of the reality of the story. Lin implies that this is the truth of today's youth: lost in a sea of post modernist mud in which right or wrong are just words and the only thing that really matters is material success. The boys rush from selling cheat sheets, to stealing computer chips from the school and selling them on the black market, to intimidation, and ultimately murder.

This genre of film has almost become the standard for emerging filmmakers to "make a statement" that will catapult their careers. From Tarentino with RESERVOIR DOGS and Scorsese with MEAN STREETS, it is supposed to be edgy to create a world in which young lives are destroyed by lack of meaning and purpose. Lin, however, wrings a story that is both interesting in its contradictions (good Asian student criminals) and involving in its predictable twists. Lin has evidently studied the best of the helmers that came before him. He employs a variety of techniques from camera work to flash frames to give the piece its kinetic energy. However, the very low budget reveals itself from time to time in awkward angles and cuts that would have been left for a re-shoot in a large budget production.

This is not a movie that will make you feel good to be an American or inspire you to higher heights. The premise of the movie may have truth in it: today's youth may have been led down a primrose path to nowhere, but the pic offers no solution. Only that bad language, drug and alcohol use, and a shocking lack of parental presence are standard fare on high school campuses today, so get used to it. It's for these reasons that we don't recommend this movie for discerning viewers.

Please address your comments to:

Sherry Lansing, Chairman

Motion Picture Group

Paramount Pictures

A Paramount Communications Company

5555 Melrose Avenue

Los Angeles, CA 90038-3197

Phone: (323) 956-5000

Website: www.paramount.com

In Brief: