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A Better Tomorrow: Hong Kong war games players re-enact Chow Yun-fat and John Woo’s epic gangster movie

Players from Thailand and Germany are expected to join local enthusiasts this weekend in Tin Shui Wai

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 10 May, 2018, 3:09pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 10 May, 2018, 7:48pm

Dozens of Hong Kong war games enthusiasts will play out Chow Yun-fat’s iconic scene at the end of world-famous Hong Kong movie A Better Tomorrow – with organisers hoping to obtain licences for more Cantonese shoot-‘em-up films in the future.

Day Army founder Justin Lau said about 100 participants – including fighters from Thailand and Germany – have signed up for the annual Operation Better Yesterday event on Sunday at Tin Shui Wai – an ideal form for beginners to get to grips with the war games concept.

“This will be our fourth year to hold the Better Yesterday event,” said Lau. “There is a lower entry barrier because it will cost a beginner less than HK$1,000 for a basic kit to start off with.

“We are very impressed with the entries despite the bad weather. We are proud but never satisfied because we want to eventually meet international standards and have at least 1,000 people take part.

“We have been doing this handgun mission for four years. Many beginners started playing the sport here.”

The movie is about a gangster who wants to turn over a new leaf after leaving jail but has difficulty totally breaking ties with his former gang. It also explores his relationship with his policeman brother.

The 1986 movie launched Chow as a major international star and laid the platform for director John Woo to enjoy a successful Hollywood career.

Watch footage from 2017 event

“It’s your typical Hong Kong middle-class career struggle,” said Lau with a smile. “We hope to obtain formal licenses from other Cantonese and international movies for future games to appeal to a wider audience so more people would be attracted to take part in these events.”

Lau said the equipment allowed are hand guns below 1.55 joules, no buttstock and inner barrels must be shorter than six inches.

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Shotguns and bolt-action rifles are also allowed. They will also be using grenade launchers that eject hundreds of bb pellets with a single pull of the trigger.

“Bolt-action rifle means those that shoot one bullet every time you chook it. The special feature of the game is we don’t allow automatic rifles [such as AK47] so this is a more street fight instead of total war kind of scenario.”

Day Army’s biggest event is June’s annual recreation of the Normandy D-Day allied invasion of France, which was a decisive battle in the second world war.

The event attracts hundreds of war games exponents from Hong Kong and overseas. Day Army also organises a Battle of the Bulge game every year in Hong Kong.

“We continue in 2018 to be one of Hong Kong’s largest organisers of war games events and we consistently attract at least 150 players for most of our games,” said Lau.

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“The high level of support from society means at least we must be doing something right.”

Apart from organising war games events, Hong Kong is also known worldwide as a centre for high-quality airsoft guns – which are classed a toys under local law.