A Better Tomorrow( Chinese :英雄本色; Mandarin Pinyin :Yīngxióng běnsè; Jyutping : Jing1 hung4 bun2 sik1; literally "True Colors of a Hero") is a 1986 Hong Kong action film which had a profound influence on the Hong Kong film-making industry, and later on an international scale .
Directed by John Woo , it stars Chow Yun-fat , Ti Lung and Leslie Cheung . Although the movie was made with a tight budget and was relatively unknown until it went on screen due to virtually no advertising, it broke Hong Kong 's box office record and went on to become a blockbuster in Asian countries. It is highly regarded, ranking at #2 of the Best 100 Chinese Motion Pictures . Its success also ensured the sequelA Better Tomorrow 2, also directed by Woo, andA Better Tomorrow 3: Love & Death in Saigon, a prequel directed by producer Tsui Hark .
Ho works for the triad whose principal operation is printing and distributing counterfeit US bank notes. He is a respected member and handles the most important transactions. Mark, his best friend, is his partner in crime. Ho has the respect of the big boss, is given the title of "big brother," and often wears the all-white suit when representing the organization.
Incidentally, Ho has a younger brother, Kit, whom he cares deeply for. Unlike Ho, Kit wants to be a police officer. Ho keeps his criminal life secret and encourages Kit's career choice. There is a suggestion that their father knows what Ho is doing and is possibly involved, but this is kept secret.
Ho is sent to Taiwan by the boss to complete a deal. Shing, a new member, is sent along as an apprentice. It turns out to be a police trap as Ho and Shing flee with guns blazing. Ho eventually surrenders to the police; Shing escapes. Ho is then sentenced to prison. Angry and bitter over Ho's imprisonment, Mark kills the men responsible—but not before his kneecap is blown in the process.
While Ho is in prison, his father is killed by Shing's assassin (Shing has taken over the organization). Before dying, the father pleads with Kit to forgive his brother. In great anguish, Kit sees Ho as a criminal who is responsible for their father's death.
Ho is released from prison. Full of remorse and determined to start a new life, he finds work as a taxi driver. Ho spots Mark during one of his shifts; Mark has been reduced to Shing's crippled errand boy. They meet as long lost brothers. Mark wants Ho to come back as gangsters and take revenge on Shing, but Ho refuses.
Later on, Shing finds Ho and presses him to come back to his organization, this time without Mark. Ho refuses. Mark is almost beaten to death as he attempts to fight Shing on his own. Ho finds out and is devastated, but he refuses to get involved.
As the movie progresses, Kit becomes obsessed with Shing. He learns of Shing's major deal, but it is a death trap in retaliation of Ho's refusal to cooperate; Ho realizes this and warns Kit. Kit doesn't believe his brother. It doesn't matter — Kit only wants to kill Shing.
In the final chapter Ho and Mark steal the evidence tape from the counterfeiting business and uses it to ransom Shing in exchange for money and an escape boat. However, Ho has given the evidence to Kit's girlfriend to hand to the police and they take the money and Shing to a pier to escape by boat. Kit unknowingly falls into a trap and is captured by Shing's men. An exchange is made for both men, but it explodes into a wild shootout. Ho is wounded. Seeing his best friend shot, Mark berates and tells Kit that whatever wrongdoings Ho has done in the past, he has redeemed himself. Then Mark is shot dead. The cops arrive and Shing surrenders. Shing mocks, "I have money. In two, three days I'll be released..." Finally seeing eye to eye, Kit hands Ho the gun; Ho turns and kills Shing. In the final scene, Ho handcuffs himself to Kit.