Better Luck Tomorrow

A Film Review By Jason L. King

Rating:Rated R for language, violence and drug use. 
Starring: Parry Shen, Jason J. Tobin, Roger Fan, Sung Kang, John Cho 
Directed By:Justin Lin 

Final Grade: 

I must say that when I had first seen trailers for a movie put out by MTV films, I was frightened. Actually I was more than frightened, I was terrified. MTV has let me down time and time again, and their films have always proved to me to be nothing more than a waste of time and money. Their films normally reek of bad teen pop culture, and even though they try to be inspirational and deep, they end up looking like poorly written over hyped teen crap. Better Luck Tomorrow though was different than all of those other MTV films, because it had The Sundance Film Festival backing it. Two words I never thought would go together, MTV and Sundance, made me curious so I headed off to the Box Offices.

Better Luck Tomorrow is the story of a group of suburban Asian American Honor Students who turn to a life of crime as an extra curricular activity. Their crimes are masked behind their grades, as long as the grades stayed up; no one expected them to be the culprits. But as their life of crime becomes increasingly more dangerous and out of control, the each learn it is only a matter of time before every thing spirals downward and everything falls apart.

The script to Better Luck Tomorrow was actually better written than any other MTV film I had ever seen. The actors also, although a group of lesser-known Asian American stars, made Better Luck Tomorrow a success. Each of the characters was strongly developed and in no time I felt like I was part of the gang.

The unfortunate downside is that even though the film gripped me right from the start, it dragged me along for a slow ride through hell somewhere in the middle. I kind of lost interest in their lives of partying, and their downward spiral, and so by the time the predictable plot twist came about, I was already itching for the climax of the film so I could head out the door.

for this being only the second film by Director Justin Lin, I must say that I was impressed. Lin seemed to have a natural style, and directed a well-done flick. Cinematically the film worked well. There were a variety of shots and angles that made the flick a little more gripping, a little more edgy and entertaining. The Ending of the flick tried to pull an “Unfaithful” like ending that was more obnoxious than anything else. It was left in the air to try and make you “make your own decision” on what the end of the movie is going to be. This idea works in some films, but in Better Luck Tomorrow, I felt cheated. It was like reading an entire book and then having the last 2 pages torn out. You want resolution, but you will never get it. To me the ending wasn’t profound but instead felt like more of a cop-out.

In the end, the film is decent because of it’s strong acting, and a original plot, and is worthy of some of the praise it gets, but in the end Better Luck Tomorrow falls short of greatness, and lands somewhere in the area of mediocrity. Don’t get me wrong, the finer points of the film make it worth a view, but it’s nothing that I will rush out to see again or buy on DVD. It may make every other MTV movie look like a pile of Rubbish, but in case you didn’t notice, that isn’t hard. Justin Lin has some raw talent, but it is still just that, raw. And unfortunately that can be both a burden and a blessing.

In the end, Better Luck Tomorrow is worth the cash. It’s a fun story that doesn’t rely on big names to promote it self. Don’t go in expecting greatness, but instead keep an open mind, go in and enjoy it, it shouldn’t let you down. 

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