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AlbertV

A Better Tomorrow (formerly 'Invincible') (2010) - Korean Remake of John Woo Classic!

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A few years back, rumors swirled that a Korean remake to John Woo's A Better Tomorrow was being planned after film company Fingerprint bought the remake rights. Well, almost four years later, the remake is going in full swing.

The literal title is INVINCIBLE and will be helmed by Song Hae-Sung (FALLEN). Here's the cast who have officially signed on to the remake:

Song Seung-Heon will play the Chow Yun-Fat role.

Lee Gin-Mi will play the Leslie Cheung role.

The film will be shot in Thailand and a Japanese company will co-finance the film due to Song Seung-Heon's popularity there. Filming is set to begin in early 2010.

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casting update on the project, from TWITCH

http://twitchfilm.net/news/2009/12/more-cast-details-on-korean-better-tomorrow-remake.php

MORE CAST DETAILS ON KOREAN BETTER TOMORROW REMAKE

Last word on 무적자 (Invincible), the Korean remake of John Woo's 英雄本色 (A Better Tomorrow), was that Song Hae-Sung of 파이란 (Failan) would direct, and that Korean Wave star Song Seung-Heon and possibly Lee Min-Gi would be cast as the leads. But now producers Fingerprint have finalized the cast, and I suppose the ladies will be pleased.

go to the link for the whole article

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From the trailer, I don't see it touching the original. However, Koreans always show a propensity for violence even when the movie only calls for a little bit. Maybe I'll be surprised.

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A very promising trailer ! But Song surely can't make the Mak Gor of Chow! But Joo Jin Moo's part ( played by old vet Ti Lung in the original) can be a surprise for us!

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The one sheet for this is out in Japan with a 19th February release date....

....there's an official Japanese website for the movie as well - http://banka2011.com/top.html

Interestingly it looks like, here in Japan at least, the name 'Invincible' has been dropped and they are using the name of the original 'A Better Tomorrow'.

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You'll have to let us know what you think if you see it, OAB!

I've noticed that a DVD rip of the film is all over the net - without english subtitles.

I found 2 reviews so far - both positive, which is a good sign.

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I just got through watching this at the local cinema so thought I`d share my thoughts.

I guess I should start by saying I watched the original `A Better Tomorrow` over 12 years ago back when I was first getting into the Asian action movie scene. Amazingly I`ve never given it a second viewing, which I believe I now should. John Woo`s movies have always been great as introductions to Asian cinema for the uninitiated, and the three movies I would always show my friends, sometimes back to back if there was a few six packs of beer involved, would be `Hard Boiled`, `The Killer`, & `A Better Tomorrow 2`.

When I watched the original, the names Chow Yun Fat, Leslie Cheung, & Ti Lung didn`t mean a lot to me. Of course now I consider them to be legends of Hong Kong cinema, & to watch them sharing the screen together would be a pleasure regardless what kind of movie it was...which is why I know I should re-visit `A Better Tomorrow`, because as it stands my memory of it is a movie which was for the most part a somewhat plodding melodrama brightened up with a few of Woo`s what would become his trademark action scenes, courtesy of the ever reliable Blacky Ko & Stephen Tung Wei.

Which brings me to the Korean re-make, instead of three of its countrys most charasmatic actors, we have Song Seung-heon in the role of Chow Yun Fat, Joo Jin-mo in the role of Ti Lung, & Kim Kang-woo in the role of Leslie Cheung. While all are servicable actors, they don`t bring that extra special something to the plate that the original performers and director did to actually make it rise above its melodramatic roots.

Add to that the Hong Kong original was done in the hey-day of 80`s action choreography, and had Blacky Ko & Stephen Tung Wei to add some great stunt work and grace to the bullet ballets...then the re-makes generic shoot outs are just that bit more dissapointing in their presentation.

Perhaps if the movie didn`t proclaim itself as a re-make, it could stand alone as a decent middle-of-the-road crime pic, such as `Eye For An Eye`, as the story does vary from the plot of the original considerably in some parts. However the problem is that just as you are starting to buy into this movies story, the film-makers suddenly need to remind us that it is indeed a re-make, so Song Seung-heon suddenly stops to put his shades on after a bloody shoot-out taken almost directly from Chow Yun Fat`s dramatic assassination scene in the original, which comes across just a little too much like "Hey, this guy is just like Mak Gor!", when in fact there`s realy no need for him to be.

Kim Kang-woo`s role is also considerably smaller than Leslie Cheung`s Kit character of the original. While Cheung managed to strike the balance well between Kit being quite vulnerable but also strong at the same time, Kim seems to play his character to extremes, being a tough as nails cop interrogating a subject at one point in the movie, and acting like a sobbing schoolgirl for most of the climax shootout which leaves you wanting to yell at the screen "stop crying and start shooting for Gods sake!".

** possible spoiler**

On a final note, it should be said the this Korean re-make is incredibly nilhistic in it`s ending. Whereas at the end of the original Leslie Cheung & Ti Lung survive to live another day and indeed, strive for `A Better Tomorrow`, in its Korean counterpart nobody is left surviving. Director Song Hae-seong goes completely Chang Cheh on the cast, stopping short of having Song Seung-hon come back on screen playing his own twin and getting shot to pieces as well, leaving nobody standing at the end, which makes the use of the original title seem a little ironic.

** end of spoiler **

All in all I would say it is worth a watch for fans of Korean cinema and gritty crime drama, but as a re-make of the original it simply doesn`t stand up, weighed down by a plodding mid-section that seems to be going nowhere for the longest time, it manages to somewhat redeem itself with its loyalty heavy (come on, it was produced by Woo so it was to be expected) bloody bullet riddled finale, but those expecting to see an update of Woo`s trademark heroic bloodshed shootouts will feel let down.

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My 2 cents...

It has been a long time since I saw the original, so my memories of it might be a tad distorted - but I think the remake did it justice.

I guess it is all about what the original (and Woo's films in general) mean to you.

For me, A Better Tomorrow has always been a homosocial (melo)drama about loyalty to oneself, loyalty to one's friends and one's moral principles. Badassery, cool action scenes and slo-mo bleeding were just a welcome bonus, a kind of an aesthetic framework for a simple story that deals with themes that are important and interesting to me.

So the slow melodrama that so many fans of the genre condemn is actually one of those aspects of the original A Better Tomorrow that appeal to me the most.

The remake does have the moody, melancholic feel of the original and it is maybe even slower at moments. And my impression was that when Mujeogja goes right back to those "melodramatic roots" of the original, it is pretty much on purpose. Heavier mood, heavier rain and slower pace - that's what this movie is IMHO quite purposefully going for.

If you are of the majority that thinks Woo's original is just a tad too slow, a tad too melodramatic and could have used a little more cowbell and Chow Yun-Fat, you're probably not going to love this remake.

I am not of that majority and Mujeogja totally is my cup of tea.

One Armed Boxer: As for the cast - undecided about the other two, but Joo Jin-mo IMHO *is* one of Korea's most charismatic actors.

PS: The action is very good, but as OAB has written, not really spectacular. The final shootout is pretty awesome, though.

***POSSIBLE SPOILER WARNING***

...

(Anyway - the film should have ended one shot earlier.)

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Cesare....good points, I think peoples enjoyment of the movie will come down entirely to if people where fans or not of the originals melodrama.

I watched `A Better Tomorrow` after `The Killer` & `Hard Boiled`...so as you can imagine my image of what the movie was going to be like was completely different to what it actually is, which is essentially more of a drama than an action movie.

I certainly wouldn`t condemn the original, it simply wasn`t what I was expecting it to be, which is not the movie or Woo`s fault.

You`re right in saying that, if anything, the re-make aims to be more heavy going than the original...and it pulls it off well. About your last point...yeah I`ll second that!

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I watched `A Better Tomorrow` after `The Killer` & `Hard Boiled`...so as you can imagine my image of what the movie was going to be like was completely different to what it actually is...

I can imagine...:xd:

To me, melodramatic aspects of Woo's films have always been just as important as his unique grasp of violence and action - ABT was not too much of a surprise to me, even though I, too, had seen Hard Boiled and Killer before watching A Better Tomorrow.

BTW - just for the record and for the sake of being honest... As much as I dislike gender generalizations - this one has definitely better chances with us girls. It is very character/relationship driven, there are hot hunks in it - and they cry a lot. (And only someone with huge amount of estrogene in their system can possibly relate to Kim Chul in his most idiotic moments.)

Sure Mujeogja is much more than simply a fangirl magnet, but it IMHO does target female audience (and the fangirl crowd within it) a lot more than the original did.

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Has anyone seen this Korean remake? I know its out on BR on Yesasia.com for US$24.49 Blu-ray Region A

I'm waiting for the US all region to be released.

YesAsia Editorial Description

The 2010 remake of the Hong Kong action classic A Better Tomorrow brings the bullets, brotherhood, and heroic bloodshed to South Korea. Directed by Song Hae Sung (Maundy Thursday) and executive produced by John Woo himself, the updated version changes the setting to the Korean port city of Busan, but stays true to the familiar hardboiled story of brotherhood, betrayal, and revenge. Where the original is tight and stylish, the remake is grand and gritty with sprawling scenes of gangster action from its star cast. Song Seung Heon (Fate) takes the Chow Yun Fat role in this fiery crime actioner, while Ju Jin Mo (A Frozen Flower) is the troubled mob boss, Kim Kang Woo (Le Grand Chef) the conflicted policeman brother, and Jo Han Sun (Attack the Gas Station! 2) the backstabbing mobster.

A former North Korean defector, mobster Kim Hyuk (Ju Jin Mo) sits comfortably at the top of the Busan underworld, but continues to be haunted by the memory of the family he left behind. Betrayed by his own henchman Tae Min (Jo Han Sun), Hyuk walks into a setup in Thailand, and lands in prison. His friend Young Choon (Song Seung Heon) attempts to avenge him by wiping out the Thai gang. Three years later, Hyuk is released from prison and returns to Busan, only to find that everything has changed. Tae Min is the top dog in town, and Young Choon is down and out with a limp leg. Hyuk's younger brother Chul (Kim Kang Woo) has resurfaced as a crime detective intent on taking down Tae Min's gang, paving the way for a bloody clash.

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“A Better Tomorrow” is one of the most influential movies to come out of Hong Kong. It put John Woo on the map as one of the greatest action film directors of our time. It also made Chow Yun-fat a superstar.

This brings us to the 2010 “A Better Tomorrow” remake by South Korean filmmaker Hae-sung Song (Failan). It’s a lavish joint production between South Korea, Japan and China. The project officially has John Woo’s blessing, since he – along with Terence Chang – served as an executive producer.

Before I checked out the remake, I wanted to watch John Woo’s original, which I haven’t seen for a good 10 years. However, I decided not to for a couple of reasons:

1) I wanted to avoid writing a review that would consist of nothing but a bunch of useless comparisons. What’s the fun in that? Besides, I wanted to get the most entertainment out of the remake that I possibly could.

2) I don’t own the original. How can a guy have 99% of Bruce Li’s films on DVD, yet not have a copy of “A Better Tomorrow.” Sad, but true.

Let me get one important fact out of the way before I get on with the review: The remake is not better than the original. I thought this before I even watched the remake.

I’m not a film snob who is totally against remakes. I actually don’t mind them at all. There are a lot of remakes that I prefer over the originals: “Vanilla Sky” (2001) was better than “Abre los ojos” (1997); “The Hills Have Eyes” (2006) was better than “The Hills Have Eyes” (1977); “The Ring” (2002) was better than “The Ring” (1998).

I wouldn’t be against the idea of anyone remaking “The Godfather,” one of my all-time favorites. Why? Because I’d be curious to see how it turned out, and whatever the outcome, at least I still have the original to go back to.

I have the same exact attitude towards the “A Better Tomorrow” remake:

Not that it should be a surprise to anyone, but the remake has the same exact plot outline as the original: Two brothers on opposite sides of the law; one’s a gangster (Joo Jin-Mo taking Ti Lung’s role), one’s a cop (Kim Gang-Woo taking Leslie Cheung’s role). Then there’s the second gangster (Song Seung-Heon taking Chow Yun-fat’s role), the unpredictable noble partner. Lastly, we have the innocent entry-level gangster (Jo Han-Seon taking over Waise Lee’s role), who turns out to be not-so innocent.

There are some drastic differences within the story. Some of them are pretty clever, others are questionable; but at the risk of spoiling anything, I won’t get into any details. I must say, a couple of the changes did catch me off guard.

The overall movie is slick. It’s shot beautifully with high standards every step of the way. There’s lot of drama (which should be expected if you’ve seen the original), but when the action kicks in, the sequences are exciting, bloody and staged just right.

The performances are all good, but I have to give main props to Song Seung-Heon (Calla). Talk about having to fill some heavy shoes. In my opinion, he nearly succeeds in matching the charm and charisma that Chow yun-fat brought to the same role.

Towards the end, I grew a little sick of Kim Gang-Woo’s (Marine Boy) weeping. They could have toned all that down a bit. Joo Jin-Mo's (Musa) performance is basically a carbon copy of what Ti Lung gave us. Jo Han-Seon seemed to have the most fun and leeway, mostly due to his character’s change from the dork who opens doors for the higher up gangsters, to the ruthless villain he later becomes.

All in all, the remake is enjoyable and fun to watch. Most likely, I’ll never watch it again, but I’m sure I’ll watch the original many more times.

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I haven't gotten it yet but I intend to very soon. I also laughed at the Bruce Li comment you made. But I will have to go against you if they ever try to do a Godfather remake that would be utterly sacrilegious!

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