I think someone else previously reviewed Better Luck Tomorrow (directed by Justin Lin) here, but I finally got the chance this weekend to catch this flick and want to give my 2 cents on this movie.
Of first note is the fact that when I was watching this movie, I had no feelings towards the matter that it was a movie about Asian Americans, because to me, it was just a movie about life. The characters in the movie could have easily been replaced by any suburban American teen and the movie would have been the same. Everyone speaks of this movie as some groundbreaking movie for the Asian American community, and yes I would say it is, frankly, because it was the first time I actually saw a movie that seemed to properly portray ethnic population distribution (at least western, I live in CA and high schools don't only contain African Americans and Caucasians like almost all teen movies I see). Then there's the other comment of the movie showing the negative cliche of Asian Americans, which I felt wasn't that bad. Yeah some of the characters in the movie were doing illegal things, but the role itself could have been replaced by any other ethnic American teen as I said before. There was nothing that really distinguished what they did to only be an Asian American thing and in a way, I think this was not cliche. When I think Asian American cliche, I think, overprotective parents, mathematicians, or clubbing, e-dropping ravers. Although the characters were thugs, Asian Americans aren't the only ethnicity that lives the ":thug-life". Essentially, I view the movie as just a movie, although I went into the movie expecting it to be an Asian American cliche, I pretty much forgot that I was watching Asian American actors/actresses a short-while into the movie.
The movie itself was well shot, camera effects were used extremely well to portray the dramatic moments within the movie. The acting was superb and the dialogue was appropriate. Although I wish the movie would have sort of ended in a more tidy way, I wasn't all that much disappointed because real life is not perfect and nothing ever ends with true clarity.
For those of you who may comment on this movie being a racist movie depicting the negatives of Asian American teens, I must paraphrase what Roger Ebert says, to make that comment is racist in itself.