Better Luck Tomorrow

Overview

A group of unlikely high school students take up crime as an extracurricular activity in this independent drama. Ben (Parry Shen) is a 16-year-old high school student who is the living embodiment of the stereotypical Asian overachiever. Ben obsessively studies even though he gets straight A's, takes part in a dizzying variety of school activities and community volunteer work, which he thinks will look good on his resume to colleges, and is even a member of the basketball team, even though he spends most of the ...
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Overview

A group of unlikely high school students take up crime as an extracurricular activity in this independent drama. Ben (Parry Shen) is a 16-year-old high school student who is the living embodiment of the stereotypical Asian overachiever. Ben obsessively studies even though he gets straight A's, takes part in a dizzying variety of school activities and community volunteer work, which he thinks will look good on his resume to colleges, and is even a member of the basketball team, even though he spends most of the season riding the pine. Ben also hopes being part of the team will help him win the heart of Stephanie Vandergosh (Karin Anna Cheung), a cute but equally obsessive girl who is on the cheerleading squad. When the big man on campus, Daric (Roger Fan), publishes an article in the school newspaper that points out Ben's true role on the team is to add a touch of ethnic diversity to satisfy Board of Education requirements, Ben is so embarrassed he quits the team and imagines his academic future going up in smoke. Daric seizes the opportunity to propose that he and Ben go into business, creating and selling detailed cheat sheets for school tests and placement exams. The cheat sheets are an immediate hit, and soon Ben and Daric advance to other forms of low-level crime, including drug dealing and fencing stolen goods. Before long, Ben and Daric are joined by a handful of friends -- Ben's close friend and part-time kleptomaniac Virgil (Jason Tobin), Hong Kong gangster wannabe Han (Sung Kang), and Steve (John Cho), a kid from a wealthy family who happens to be dating Stephanie -- but they soon find themselves moving deeper into the criminal underworld than they ever anticipated, and things get ugly when they try to move on. Better Luck Tomorrow was enthusiastically received in its screenings at the 2002 Sundance Film Festival.
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide
Justin Lin's independent feature about a group of good kids gone bad caused a stir at the 2002 Sundance Film Festival, where at least one audience member objected to its depiction of Asian-Americans. The incident may have gone unnoticed except that Roger Ebert was inspired to defend the film both at the screening and in his column, giving it enough attention to ultimately land Lin a distribution deal with MTV Films. Lin is certainly a talented director, drawing fine performances from his young cast, who, like many Asian-American actors, are normally consigned to bit roles. Clearly inspired by Martin Scorsese, Lin also has a good sense of pacing and visual energy. Like Scorsese's Goodfellas, Better Luck Tomorrow is narrated by a mentally unraveling protagonist, with the plot gaining momentum in rhythm with his increasing desperation. Lin and cinematographer Patrice Lucien Cochet also imbue the film's Southern Californian locale with dazzling natural light playing off soulless suburban housing developments, neatly connecting the characters' malfunctioning moral compasses to their bland surroundings. The touchstone for this kind of suburban anomie exploding into violence is Jonathan Kaplan's unjustly forgotten Over the Edge, which managed to make the same point much more forcefully. In fact, there isn't much new in Lin's film. It's competently made and well-acted, but, like a lot of independent films, it covers the territory of suburban restlessness without adding anything fresh to the mix. This is only Lin's second feature, and as one of the few successful Asian-American directors, he certainly has something to say. Hopefully he will have the chance to apply his talents to something more challenging and unique in the future.
Rolling Stone - Peter Travers
1/2
Lin is a talent to watch. There's a sting to this film that gets to you.
New York Times - Elvis Mitchell
Mr. Lin makes the anxious grasping of these kids for some kind of emotional turf -- their own need to shatter the stereotypes that bind them -- the heart of Better Luck Tomorrow, a scenario that keeps the movie's blood racing.
Chicago Sun-Times - Roger Ebert

Not just a thriller, not just a social commentary, not just a comedy or a romance, but all of those in a clearly seen, brilliantly made film.

Mr. Lin makes the anxious grasping of these kids for some kind of emotional turf -- their own need to shatter the stereotypes that bind them -- the heart of Better Luck Tomorrow, a scenario that keeps the movie's blood racing.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 7/14/2009
  • UPC: 032429065643
  • Original Release: 2002
  • Rating:

  • Source: Paramount
  • Region Code: 1
  • Presentation: Wide Screen
  • Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • Language: English
  • Format: DVD

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Parry Shen Ben Manibag
Jason Tobin Virgil Hu
Sung Kang Han
Roger Fan Daric Loo
John Cho Steve Choe
Karin Anna Cheung Stephanie
Jerry Mathers Biology Teacher
Technical Credits
Justin Lin Director, Editor, Producer, Screenwriter
Julie Asato Producer
Donna Tina Charles Casting
Curtis X. Choy Sound/Sound Designer
Patrice Lucien Cochet Cinematographer
Josh Diamond Asst. Director
Ernesto M. Foronda Producer, Screenwriter
Yoojung Han Art Director
Steve Herr Associate Producer
Joan Huang Co-producer
Sung Kang Associate Producer
Michael Manshel Executive Producer
Fabian Marquez Screenwriter
Gustavo Spoliansky Executive Producer
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Scene Index

Side #1 --
1. Cell Phone [3:27]
2. Extracurricular Activities [5:03]
3. Bench Warmer [4:13]
4. Cheat Sheet Scam [4:34]
5. Party Crashers [4:50]
6. Criminal Achievements [2:41]
7. Breaking the Cycle [7:59]
8. Ben & Stephanie [:45]
9. The Formal [6:41]
10. Las Vegas [1:46]
11. A Rich Kid's Proposition [6:44]
12. Steve's Wake-Up Call [1:44]
13. Falling Apart [3:37]
14. Questioning Tomorrow [5:23]
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Menu

Side #1 --
   Play
   Setup
      Audio Options: English 5.1 Surround
      Commentary by Director/Co-Writer Justin Lin and Co-Writers Ernesto M. Foronda & Fabian Marquez
      Subtitle Options: English
      Subtitle Options: None
   Scene Selection
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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    One of the Best Films of the 2003 !

    All the aspects from this film were excellent. Justin Lin's direction, the dialogues between the actors and amazing performances of the cast, especially from Parry Shen,Roger Fan, Jason Tobin and Karin Anna Cheung.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    A must-see for any teen or college student

    This a story of a group of Asian-American overacheivers trying to find their way in an Orange County High School. However, they soon find themselves in over their heads in a world of crime. This story examines an ethnic group that has often been marginalized to Kung-Fu characters in the media. Also, this movie examines the strain that the ''model minority'' stereotype of Asians puts on these students. They try to maintain as well as dispel these stereotypes at the same time.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    great movie

    best movie ever.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Best!

    Go see this movie for a new look into the life of high school students! They are brutaly honest and go where other films have yet to go!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Asians

    This movie is really bad a** it is almost a completly new idea and a must watch although it is quite stereotypical for many ''groups'' mor a a teen movie I wouldn't recomend it fo younger viewers

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 30, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews