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EBERT & ROEPER BLT REVIEW (Taken from Justin Lin's Myspace blog)

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04/06/2003

Two thumbs up!

Richard Roeper & Roger Ebert

*********************** REVIEWS ARE IN ******************

EBERT AND ROEPER (APRIL 5, 2003)

TRANscrīpt OF "BETTER LUCK TOMORROW" REVIEW

RICHARD ROEPER: We move on to another movie, which is much better

I think. It's dazzling, it's shocking, it's unsettling and it's called

"BETTER LUCK TOMORROW." Like the Larry Clark films "Kids" and "Bully," it's a piercing portrayal of American teenagers who are for the most part good-looking, smart, funny-- and almost completely lacking in morals. Directed, co-written and co-produced by Justin Lin, "BETTER LUCK TOMORROW" is narrated by Parry Shen as Ben, one of a loosely knit group of privileged Asian-American honors students living in Orange County.

RICHARD: The film starts with the discovery of that dead body and

then goes back to the chain of events that led to a murder.

RICHARD: Karin Anna Cheung plays Stephanie, Ben's lab partner.

They strike up a sweet, but complicated friendship verging on romance.

Now, nearly all the main characters here are of Asian heritage, but

they're also American teenagers who make fun of stereotypes about their ethnic culture. Yeah, they're the smartest kids in school and they have comfortable homes, but we never see their parents, who seem to be out of town or otherwise too busy to realize their kids are soaking in violence, drugs and crime. My only real complaint is an ending that came too quickly, leaving too many loose ends, but maybe that means there will be a sequel, which I'd love to see.

ROGER EBERT: Yeah you know, at one point the narrator says,

"Our straight A's were our passport to freedom. As long as we got great grades, our parents didn't care where we were." And I agree with you,

this is a brilliant film. I think Justin Lin is going to be a leading American director, if he isn't already, because this film is very mature and well thought out. It's not just another American teenager movie and it doesn't have another one of those dumb studio endings. It really goes all the way with this dark material and says these kids are affluent, they are privileged, they get great grades, they live in this wonderful area. But at the same time, they are completely adrift, completely adrift. Success is their only goal.

RICHARD: They almost have too much, too soon. They're bored.

They get into it not because they really need the money, the selling

of the drugs and some of the other crimes; its' because they have

nothing else to do. They've conquered the world of academia, they're

doing fine in sports, they have friends, they have good-looking girlfriends. "So what are we going to do next? Well, let's see what we can get away with." The direction reminds me a little bit of the promise of a young Tarantino.

ROGER: Yeah.

RICHARD: That kind of thing where it's just dazzling stuff, where

you're saying, " I want to see what this filmmaker's going to do next."

ROGER: The way he handles his camera, the way he handles the actors,

the way he sidesteps obvious points in the plot and surprises us with character insights is very exciting.

RICHARD: Absolutely.

TWO BIG THUMBS UP for "BETTER LUCK TOMORROW."

It opens next week. (APRIL 11)

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