Jason Pettus’s review published on Letterboxd :
I originally downloaded this as part of "Hong Kong New Wave" week of the 2017 Film School Dropouts challenge, but didn't get around to watching it until this month. This is one of those genres that I notoriously know almost nothing about (see as well Westerns, which I'm also trying to watch a ton of these days in order to better my education), so it was great to finally see this 1986 actioner, one of the first big hits of John Woo's career, and one of the seminal "gun-fu" films to so profoundly affect Generation X filmmakers like Quentin Tarantino, whose bigger successes then influenced the film world at large.
That can actually be a disadvantage sometimes by now, in that the tropes of these kinds of films have become so common (showing up now in everything from mainstream films to TV commercials to Simpsons parodies), it's hard to appreciate just how novel and unique they appeared in these first Woo films to start utilizing them; but unlike a film that's too old and dated, A Better Tomorrow is still a terrifically entertaining movie to watch just at face-value for its own sake, even if it is largely responsible for the "one brother's a cop and the other's a criminal" stereotype that has become such an overused joke by now. After watching it, it's very easy to see why Chow Yun Fat became the breakout star of this movie, despite being just a minor character among the B-cast; and in general I simply had a fantastic time watching this, the very definition of a "popcorn movie" that always keeps its guns blazing while never forcing you to think too hard about any of it. Highly recommended, and I'm looking forward now to delving into my more obscure picks for Hong Kong New Wave week.