Time And Tide (HK 2000)

Rating: ***
Review Date: 5/24/01
Producer: Tsui Hark
Written And Directed By: Tsui Hark
Stunt Coordinator: Xin Xin Xiong
Cast: Nicholas Tse, Wu Bai, Anthony Wong, Candy Lo, Cathy Tsui

A no-holds-barred Hong Kong actioner similar in feel to Tsui Hark's previous "Double Team" (1997) and "Knock-Off" (1998), but with a lot more substance and subtext. In the first five minutes of the film, a young punk kid named Tyler (pop star Nicholas Tse) knocks up undercover vice cop Cathy Tsui in a drunken debacle. From there, he tries to earn some quick cash by hooking up with loan shark Anthony Wong's questionable bodyguard company. Nearly an hour of uninteresting and confusing character development takes place, and then the film radically shifts gears when a South American hit squad shows up in Hong Kong to settle an old score with Tyler's friend, Jack (pop star Wu Bai). An astonishing sequence of action set pieces takes our "heroes" from a rundown apartment complex to a train station to an auditorium packed with cheering music fans. Tyler repeatedly gets his ass kicked, while Jack is a highly trained super soldier. Jack's pregnant wife also gets thrown into the mix, which adds a lot of tension and perverse humor. Amazingly, the "good guys" win and the film ends on a cheerful and optimistic note.

An interesting film. The first half is very arty and noir-ish, and positively dreadful to watch. But everything pulls together in the second half, and the action sequences are among Hong Kong's finest. The gun sequences are a careful blend of Ringo Lam's gritty ugliness, John Woo's poetic beauty, and Tsui Hark's visual flair. The action is completely over the top and exceedingly violent, which makes for a very entertaining and exciting ride. While minimalistic, the martial arts sequences are highly stylized and quite interesting. As you would expect from Tsui Hark, the cinematography is brilliant and the film glows with vibrant colors and inventive tracking. He also employs some Matrix-like effects that view time-frozen explosions from some very interesting perspectives. A very visually attractive film. Unfortunately, the story isn't all that interesting and neither are the characters (although Nicholas Tse is a hottie and Cathy Tsui is quite cute). Definitely worth checking out if you like Hong Kong gun movies.