Rushed into production due to the enormous success of A Better Tomorrow this sequel reunites director John Woo with his three leading stars of the original (Chow Yun Fat, Ti Lung and Leslie Cheung) and introduces us to another veteran Hong Kong actor, Dean Shek. I cannot really go into detail with the plot, as I would almost certainly spoil the original film. The basic story however consists of Dean Shek (a Triad boss) being betrayed by his right hand man, vengeance becomes the name of the game, so he enlists the help (or rather they come to him) of two old friends (Chow Yun-Fat and Ti Lung) who are in turn joined by Leslie Cheung.
Unfortunately the story is highly under developed and leaves itself open to many inconsistencies, which in some ways is a shame as the action sequences in this film are certainly of a higher calibre than those seen in the first, and if the story was at least up to the standards of the original then this would become one of the few sequels that truly surpasses its predecessor. Before I get onto the action I need to say that the characterisation here is again quite superb. Ti Lung and Leslie Cheung put in decent performances as brothers who have come together since the original film, but it is of course Chow Yun-Fat that steals the show again. This time his performance is far lighter in nature but he has just got this manner about him that makes it impossible not to watch his every movement and (just like in the first film) almost attempt to echo them (be careful with lighters now!).
Finally, the action! There are many action sequences in the film but two really stand out. The first is while Chow and Dean Shek are in America. This sequence sees Chow drag Shek through the building while blasting every bad guy in sight; it is superbly shot and choreographed with some highly memorable scenes (like Chow sliding down the stairs while shooting the bad guy). But this sequence and the many smaller set pieces cannot hold a candle to what was Woo’s first really outstanding finale. The end sequence lasts for a full fifteen minutes and does not let up for a single second! What really makes it work is the constant sparks of originality, the excellent humorous performance from Chow (anything involving Chow and grenades always gets a laugh) and the downright outrageousness of what is going on. All of this (and the classic look on Dean Shek’s face as they jump the wall at the 90 minute mark!) make this film a classic in its own right and is certainly a must see for any fan of action. —Thedigitalfix.com
The first Asian filmmaker to helm a major Hollywood feature, John Woo initially emerged as the leading light of the Hong Kong action renaissance of the late ’80s. Celebrated for his unique, much-imitated style: a Molotov cocktail of graceful slow-motion sequences, staccato edits, freeze-frames, and dissolves; Woo brought a new depth of emotion and visual beauty to the action genre, perfecting an operatic, highly stylized brand of mayhem laced with melodrama, savage wit, and homoerotic undercurrents. Woo was born Wu Yu Sen on May 1, 1946, in the Guangzhou Canton Province of China, his parents relocating the family to Hong Kong three years later to escape life under communism. The Woos were quite poor, and were homeless for several years. His father, a philosopher, was later hospitalized with tuberculosis for over a decade. It was his mother who introduced Woo to the cinema, where he fell under the sway of American musicals and the films of the French New Wave, with Jean-Pierre Melville… read more
Hmm, needs more Chow Yun Fat lighting his smokes with dollar bills. It was no A Better Tomorrow
After the revolutionary and kinetic 'A Better Tomorrow', the sequel comes across as a haphazardly constructed parody of its far superior predecessor. The behind the scenes fallout of Tsui Hark and John Woo is to blame, as the editing (completed by the production company's editing suite) is a complete mess lacking in any tension, drama or even continuity. Only watch for an insanely demented performance from Dean Shek.
Like the first one, this was also pretty enjoyable, however I still will have to go with part I as my favorite. This one has some of the most outrageous action sequences. Bodies drop like flies everywhere and endless magazines of ammo run rampant throughout. Chow Yun-fat reprises his role (sorta) as the fight goes from Hong Kong to America to Hong Kong again. The "eat the rice!" scene is still pretty hilarious.