So if you’ve ever perused this blog, you’ll by now be made aware of the fact that I am a massive fan of foreign films, be they good or bad. I’m fascinated by the similarities and differences of American versus Foreign, and how the blending of the various cultures can often create an overall appealing movie. People are generally the same from continent to continent; the same gripes, hopes, dreams, and setbacks. But the subtle cultural differences seem to pop creatively on film. My latest pick is a bad boy out of South Korea titled “A Better Tomorrow”, which is a 2010 remake of the original 1986 Hong Kong classic that featured shoot ’em up action titan Yun-Fat Chow. In short, the film centers around two brothers, separated at a young age, that end up re-connecting years down the road. One brother chose the police force and the other followed a life of crime, so we can predict the inevitable clashes that arise with that; in addition, we have the usual double crossing bad guy that you end up hating by the end of the movie. While I’m generally opposed to remakes and ‘re-imaginings’, this is a solid version of a true gem.
Below, the horribly dubbed original:
Read on if you'd like; if so, thank you for taking the time to do so. Best of days to all.
The bus veered around a series of winding corners, and they slowly and methodically snaked their way deep into the trees. He surprisingly managed to drift in and out of sleep periodically with each bump and sway of the ancient machine as it rocked him to sleep. The old driver tamed the turns like a seasoned pro, and managed to swerve deftly around each craggy bend; any driver with normal nerves would surely not have attempted that type of road with the type of speed that this guy was able to conjure up. It was actually quite a shock that the old scrap heap was able to generate any speed at all, he mused. One look at that thing and you’d think it must’ve been George Washington’s motor coach. That fucker had to have been at Valley Forge. A good jolt jarred him from his sleep, and he sat up wide-eyed in the seat. He gave a quick, slumber induced glance around the bus in order to get his bearings, and noticed that her eyes had closed and her head was tilted back against the seat. Her head shifted gently from side to side with each curve of the road, and she looked so peaceful like that, he thought, her head dancing along with the movement of the bus. The breeze forced its way in and caught fragile tufts of her hair in its grasp, and sent it flying rapidly in front of her face. She was beautiful.
In an era dominated by testosterone, big muscles, bigger guns, and the ever present and ultra macho Alpha Male phenomenon, the idea of a female lead in an action role was not just uncommon, but was largely unheard of. Guys like Stallone, Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, and Van Damme ruled the box office with their manly mix of tough cop roles, cheesy one liners, and improbable shoot outs; for a female to suit up into a stereotypical male lead ‘hero’ role, in that era, was remarkable. Ellen Ripley, the Warrant Officer on the Nostromo (effectively played by Sigourney Weaver) in the original 1979 film, was a true bad ass. Everything about Ripley was atypical for a hero lead; she wasn’t bulging with pecs and biceps, she wasn’t trained in any sort of martial arts, there were no Matrix style slow mo flip kicks, she didn’t dish out one liners like candy, and she obviously wasn’t a dude.
She did, however, possess an uncommon resilience in the face of unthinkable carnage (standing toe to toe with a dinosaur sized mother alien was pretty damned awesome), and courage that rivaled any character that Stallone or Arnold ever played. Her secret weapon? Her intellect. She outsmarted her alien rivals with true cunning. Who knows, Ripley vs. Rambo may have been a decent duel. At any rate, Sigourney Weaver made that role her own (a role that was originally written for a man); she beat the shit out of gnarly aliens across space and time, and in my eyes, is one bad ass Legendary Hero for doing it.