Better Luck Tomorrow Justin Lin

Better Luck TomorrowJustin Lin
Better Luck Tomorrow revolves around Ben Manibag (Perry Shen), a suburban, Asian-American obsessed with getting straight As, overbooking his timetable with extracurricular activities and memorizing the dictionary, all to sweeten up his Ivy League application. He's also into stealing computers and selling cheat-sheets with his friends, mostly as a relief from the pressures of "being perfect." But it's when Ben's buddy Daric (Roger Fan) pulls a gun on a bunch of racist jocks that this crew of seemingly passive, overachievers shift gears on their illegal pranks and redesign themselves as an ultra-violent Asian-American mafia. The style of the film borrows a great deal from Requiem for a Dream and City of God: staccato visuals, subverted angles, self-reflexive narrative and an edgy indie-electronica soundtrack. However, Better Luck Tomorrow is not as disturbing. Its characters are a far more compassionate bunch and none of them try to sell their stories on the basis of cultural authenticity. We are never told of the actual ethnic makeup of Ben's crew, whether they're Korean, Chinese or Philipino. Equally muted is the parental presence behind the boys' descent, making Better Luck Tomorrow a teen film quite unlike any other. Its angst and aspirations are deeply psychological, but culturally rooted within a contemporary Asian-American (and probably not too far from an Asian-Canadian) experience. Hollywood could do with more of this. Plus: commentary. (Paramount)