A Better Tomorrow 2

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A Better Tomorrow 2
A Better Tomorrow 2.jpg
Original US Region 1 DVD cover
Directed by John Woo
Produced by Tsui Hark
Written by John Woo
Tsui Hark
Starring Dean Shek
Ti Lung
Leslie Cheung
Chow Yun-fat
Music by Joseph Koo
Lowell Lo
Cinematography Wong Wing-hung
Edited by David Wu
Distributed by Golden Princess Film Production
Release dates
  • 17 December 1987 (1987-12-17)
Running time 104 minutes
Country Hong Kong
Language Cantonese
Box office HK$22,727,369

A Better Tomorrow 2 (Chinese: 英雄本色 2; pinyin: Yīngxióng běnsè èr; Jyutping: Jing1hung4 bun2sik1 ji6) is a 1987 Hong Kong action film written and directed by John Woo. A follow-up to its popular predecessor, A Better Tomorrow, the film stars returning cast members Chow Yun-fat, Ti Lung and Leslie Cheung alongside new cast member Dean Shek. The film was released in Hong Kong on 17 December 1987.

Due to the popularity of Chow's breakout performance in the previous installment, he was cast in a new character as the twin brother of "Mark", who was killed in the previous film.[1] A Better Tomorrow 2 is known for its over the top violence, exaggerated blood and gore, and body counts nearing the hundreds.

Film director John Woo and producer Tsui Hark had disagreements over the focus of this film. Tsui felt that the film should focus more on Dean Shek's character. This led to the film being edited by both Tsui and Woo. Their disagreements would lead to a split after this film, with Hark directing A Better Tomorrow 3 and Woo moving on to create The Killer.


Several years after the events of A Better Tomorrow, Sung Tse-ho (Ti Lung) is offered early parole by the police in exchange for spying on his former boss and mentor, Lung Sing (Dean Shek), who is suspected of heading a counterfeiting operation. Inspector Wu (Lau Siu-ming), the leader of the crime task force, wants to mark his retirement with the capture of a high profile criminal like Lung.

However, Ho, still loyal to Lung, initially declines. He changes his mind when he discovers that his younger brother Sung Tse-kit (Leslie Cheung) is working undercover on the same case, and agrees to go undercover to protect his brother, who is expecting a child along with his pregnant wife Jackie (Emily Chu). While working the case, the two brothers meet and agree to work together on the investigation.

After being framed for murder, Lung seeks Ho's help. Ho is able to help him escape to New York, but Lung suffers a psychotic break and is institutionalised after receiving news of his daughter's murder and witnessing his friend being killed.

Meanwhile, Ho learns that Mark Lee has a long-lost twin brother, Ken (Chow Yun-fat), a former gang member who went legitimate and left Hong Kong as a teenager to travel across America, eventually settling and opening a restaurant in New York City. However, Ho tracks down Ken and enlists his assistance in freeing Lung and nursing him back to health.

Targeted by both assassins hunting for Lung as well as American mobsters looking to extort Ken's business, Ken and Lung (who is still catatonic) go into hiding in an apartment building, and where Ken arms himself. During a shoot-out with the mobsters, but Ken and Lung find themselves cornered. Seeing Ken wounded and in trouble, Lung regains his sanity and kills the last of the Americans pursuing them.

The two return to Hong Kong and link-up with Ho and Kit. The group discovers that one of Lung's employees, Ko Ying-pui (Shan Kwan), is responsible for trying to kill Lung and has taken over the organisation in Lung's absence. Lung resolves that he would rather destroy his organisation by his own hands than let it fall into dishonor and ruin, and the team starts planning to act against Ko.

After doing some reconnaissance in Ko's mansion alone, Kit is fatally wounded, roughly at the same time his daughter is born. He is rescued by Ken, who attempts to rush him to the hospital. Knowing that he won't make it, Kit persuades Ken to stop at a phone booth to call his wife. He manages, just before he dies, to name his child Sung Ho-yin (in Cantonese, "the Spirit of Righteousness").

After attending Kit's funeral, Ho, Ken, and Lung take revenge on Ko by attacking his mansion during a meeting with a counterfeiting client. An enormous gun battle ensues. The three kill approximately 90 others (including Ko) but are all severely (perhaps mortally) wounded in the process. The three sit down in the mansion and are eventually surrounded by the police, led by Inspector Wu. Upon seeing the condition of the men, Wu motions to the other officers to lower their weapons. Ho remarks that Inspector Wu shouldn't retire yet as there is "much work left for [him] to do."


  • Chow Yun-fat as Ken "Gor" Lee
  • Dean Shek as Lung Sing
  • Ti Lung as Sung Tse-ho
  • Leslie Cheung as Sung Tse-kit
  • Emily Chu as Jackie Sung (Tse-kit's wife)
  • Kwan Shan as Ko Ying-pui (The main antagonist)
  • Kenneth Tsang as Ken (The taxi manager from the first film)
  • Shing Fui-On as Ko's partner
  • Lam Chung as Ko's partner
  • Ng Man-tat as Mr Wong (during the early stage of his film career)
  • Peter Wang as Sam (Lung's priest friend in New York)
  • Man Yan-lung as Chong (Ko's cold blooded hitman)
  • Louis Roth as Protection Money Collector
  • Regina Kent as Peggy Lung (Lung's daughter)
  • Ken Boyle as New York Counterfeit Buyer
  • Lau Siu-ming as Chief Inspector Wu


A Better Tomorrow 2 is set and was filmed in Hong Kong and New York City in 42 days on 24 January – 7 March 1987.

The film originally ran about 160 minutes. Tsui Hark 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 8 times a day). Woo refused to make any cuts, so Hark secretly cut scenes out while Woo secretly put the parts Hark had cut out back in. The two had a falling out and could not agree what should be cut and what not. So they had the film recut by the "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 version of A Better Tomorrow 2. Woo's "Director's Cut" was only shown once to film executives in Hong Kong.

This film was notorious for stunt mishaps. Chow Yun-fat was almost blown up when the explosion outside the mansion door was 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.

Mike Abbott appears at the hotel shootout scene. Mike Abbott was known by appearing in some ninja movies made by Godfrey Ho.

Theme song[edit]

Will Rush Toward Future Day (奔向未來日子)

Music cues[edit]

This film contains music cues from other films. Here are the films and the songs that were used:

"Birdy's Flight (From 'Not One Of Us')" Composer: Peter Gabriel From: Birdy (1984)

"Leo Gets It" Composer: Gary Chang From: 52 Pick-Up (1987)

"The Set-Up" Composer: Jerry Goldsmith From: Extreme Prejudice (1987)

Film references[edit]

  • The group of teenagers come into Ken's diner dressed in duster jackets and aviator sunglasses. When Ken's inquires as to their appearance, they respond that they are dressing like Brother Mark. The previous film in this series was so popular that young people in Hong Kong dressed like the lead character that this style of attire became known as "Mark "Gor" Lee", "Brother Mark's coat", and the scene comments on that trend.
  • In the 1993 film True Romance, directed by Tony Scott and written by Quentin Tarantino, Patricia Arquette's character is watching A Better Tomorrow 2 on TV.
  • One scene in the movie references The Godfather. In The Godfather, characters who purchase, eat, or are shown with oranges are killed as sort of a foreshadowing. In a scene in A Better Tomorrow 2, every major character is offered a single orange as snack before a job. They all refuse the orange, and every major character is either dead or heavily wounded by the end of the movie.

Home media[edit]

A DVD was released in the United States on 22 February 2000; it was distributed by Anchor Bay Entertainment. On 11 September 2006, a Region 2 PAL DVD was released by Hong Kong Legends in the United Kingdom.

See also[edit]


External links[edit]