Better Luck Tomorrow, though employing a rather cliche premise ("nerdy" kids plotting to overthrow the system), seems as fresh and shocking as the blood spatters on Daric's face after Ben bludgeons Steve with a baseball bat. That is to say, I liked the movie, despite (because of?) the gratuitous drugs/sex/debauchery.
To me, this is very clearly a teenage movie, even a coming-of-age movie, if you will. The characters seem much older than most high schoolers I know, but their experiences with cheating, drugs, parties, and the opposite sex are common in suburbia, as is the disillusionment they all seem to have. I really liked that the film focused more on the characters' lives outside of school; I think that this created more complexity. I'm not sure if it was intentional on the part of the director or not, but I feel that some of the characters, Daric and Steve in particular, came across as very cold and jaded. Stephanie, the cute cheerleader, seems to be the only innocent -- she wasn't really in a porno, and is always portrayed with a sort of chaste naivete (despite her oh-so-badass theft of a "Music to Hump To" CD). Is she meant to be 'tragically whitewashed'?
All in all, I enjoyed this film -- it's rare to see a cast of young Asian actors in American films, especially Asian actors who aren't Long Duck Dong-types.