Vol. 12, No. 2,856W - The American Reporter - March 18, 2006

Film Review

by Rob Barrabee
American Reporter Film Critic
Jersey City, N.J.

Better Luck Tomorrow. dDirected by Justin Lin. Written by Lin, Ernes= to M. Foronda and Fabian Marquez. Starring Parry Shen, Jason Tobin, Sung= Kang, Roger Fan, John Cho, and Karin Anna Cheung. Produced by Julie As= ato and Ernesto Foronda. Released by MTV Films. Running time: 98 minut= es. Rated R for violence, drug use, language and sexuality.***

JERSEY CITY, N.J. -- "Better Luck Tomorrow," hoping to be known as "BLT,= " is a high-energy cross between "Orange County" (never known as "OC") and = "Mean Streets" (never known as 'MS').

The film's Asian-American teens bravely parade across the suburban high = school landscape, trying their hand at everything from academic decathlons = to drug dealing; from basketball to prostitution; from SATs to murder.

This is a cleverly conceived, professionally crafted crime drama masquer= ading as a teen comedy. The drama never quite overtakes the comedy, as it = probably should, but the wild (if uneven) result is all the more lively as = a consequence.

You never know what you're going to get with this film, and, even if thi= s is because the filmmakers are never quite sure what they want to give, th= e uncertainty of it all is thrilling, even invigorating. I wish more movie= s would dare to genre-cross; BLT proves that it works.

The importance of BLT may eventually go well beyond its daring blend of styles, however. With a cast of Asian-Americans populating a film that could have just as easily been populated by white Americans, it separates itself from other Asian acting vehicles like, say, 'The Joy Luck Club,' and ventures into uncharted waters.

Like the recent hits "Barbershop" and "Drumline," BLT features a minority cast engaging in activities not specifically (or exclusively) associated with that minority. Due in part to the success of those films, black actors are fast separating themselves from the type-c= ast roles of thug, criminal, token victim, comedic sidekick, or other compa= rable insults.

"Better Luck Tomorrow" may help pave a similar road for Asian actors, so= that we will soon be able to say that their role in mainstream cinema goes= far beyond the martial arts. As sad as it is, that is something we cannot= say right now.

Here, then, is a virtual toast to BLT, not only for being a very good fi= lm, not only for daring to blend "Orange County" with "Mean Streets," but a= lso for trying to guide the cinematic world toward a brighter, better, luckier tomorrow.

Copyright 2006 Joe Shea The American Reporter. All Rights Reserved.

Site Meter