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1 item from 2000

Time and Tide

18 December 2000 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

Hong Kong cinema geeks should get quite a kick from the return of Tsui Hark and his latest style-over-content opus, "Time and Tide". After helming a couple of Jean-Claude Van Damme vehicles ("Double Team", "Knock Off") in Hollywood with mediocre success, Tsui returns to his director's chair in Hong Kong for this over-the-top action drama with the territory's hottest teen idol, Nicholas Tse, and Taiwan's biggest rock star, Wu Bai. Make no mistake, "Time and Tide" is the kind of picture that is synonymous with Hong Kong cinema.

The cast of popular Asian stars will ensure the film's success in most Chinese markets. And even with its convoluted story, the film has enough firepower and building-leaping stunts to possibly work in cities with strong contingents of Sino-cultists.

Columbia bankrolled this project, and its entry into the market might depend on how it performs this Christmas.

In "Time and Tide", 20-year-old Tse plays Tyler, a small-time hood who becomes unlikely friends with Jack (Bai), who is trying to bury his past as a lethal mercenary in South America. One is a kid learning to face reality after impregnating a one-night stand; the other is starting a new life with an expectant wife.

The plot is straight from the "Mission: Impossible" school of storytelling. Tyler takes a job as a bodyguard even though he has no experience. Jack's wife is the es-tranged daughter of a rich client. And the father and Jack's former band of mercenaries end up in a complicated tangle resulting in people getting assassinated.

The overly elaborate plot gets further hijacked when the scary Latino hit men turn against Jack, their former friend. Bullets fly and suicidal stunt men rappel off crowded Hong Kong slum buildings. Not missing a beat, Tsui's insane glee for chaos then throws Jack's pregnant wife (Cantonese pop singer Candy Lo) into the middle of the action. Lo's character even goes into labor during a shootout.

The final half-hour consists of two extended action sequences that flow together quite spectacularly. They remind you that good stunt men and editing can kick ass over computers and software any day. It is this extended showdown that audiences will remember from "Time and Tide".

Tsui, director of such gems as "A Chinese Ghost Story", "Peking Opera Blues" and "Once Upon a Time in China", has always had great craftsmanship and style. His comic book sense of kinetic visuals can be mesmerizing. But unlike former buddy John Woo, he doesn't have the narrative discipline to carry through anything resembling thematic cohesiveness. At times, the delicate tension and non sequitur cutaways of pigeons are almost too reminiscent of Woo's trademarks. But then again, every action movie these days owes something to Woo.


Columbia Pictures Production Asia

Film Workshop Co.

Director-producer: Tsui Hark

Screenwriters: Koan Hui, Tsui Hark

Music: Tommy Wai

Directors of photography: Ko Chiu-lam, Herman Yau

Editor: Marco Mak



Tyler: Nicholas Tse

Jack: Wu Bai

Uncle Ji: Anthony Wong

Ah Hui: Candy Lo

Ah Jo: Cathy Chui

Running time -- 116 minutes

No MPAA rating


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