Monday, 6 August 2007

A Better Tomorrow (1986)

Chinese title: True Colours of a Hero.

Alternatively, the title could be shortened to True Colours. Don't know why this title is changed to something rather mild, bland, in fact, lame? This original Chinese title seems even more apt when you consider that this movie is the Woo's 1st action flick that's termed the 'heroic bloodshed' subgenre. Woo may not have invented this genre / sub genre (I'm not going to be too hung up about distinguishing this a genre or subgenre. You get the drift), he certainly have popularised it.

Time again and again, I see many literal translations of Chinese titles would work far better than completely new English titles. A Better Tomorrow sounds like a slogan for insurance policy, or real estate for retirement homes, or drug for a cancer cure.

Heroic bloodshed subgenre deals with a lot of important strict moral codes, which lies in the heart of many wuxia stories. The codes of ethics like loyalty, brotherhood, honour, duty, justice, etc formed the backbone of Chinese classics like Water Margins. They're outlaws and they're also heroes/heroines, and many of the protagonists in Woo's heroic bloodshed flicks are hit men, thus outlaws.

I reckon this heroic bloodshed genre is simply a modern version of the wuxia genre where swords are being replaced by guns. And sword fights are substituted by stylistic gun plays. And protagonists dodge bullets with the grace and agile movements that reminiscent of wuxia. But the moral codes stay (the more things change, the more things stay the same). It's a natural evolution, or more accurately a modern adaptation of the wuxia genre. This explains its popularity - it's wuxia in modern clothing.

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