Time and Tide

Tsui Hark had a problem. Like John Woo, Chow-Yun Fat, and Jet Li, he came to America to obtain the superstardom they all had internationally. Here, he made Double Take and Knock-Off, and people ignored him, while his friends rose to new heights of stardom. So what is this famous director who helped launch the career of Li to do? Hark went back to Hong Kong to make movies his way. In America, he disliked the lack of control he as a director could exercise. Time and Tide is a Hong Kong film and little else. Music stars cross over into action, the bodycount is high and the stunts are amazing. However, the story is more impenetrable than usual. By the end of the movie, snippets of plot are clear, but everything else swirls into some amorphous mass of nothingness.

What is clear is that two men kind of team-up. They do not know each other, but each has a woman pregnant with child. Tyler (Nicholas Tse, Twelve Nights, Metade Fumaca) needs money to help Jo (Cathy Tsui, Teaching Sucks), a lesbian policewoman who wants nothing to do with him. Jack (Wu Bai, The Personals) wants to help his girlfriend Hui (Candy Lo, Twelve Nights). Tyler begins working as a bodyguard for his Uncle Ji's (Anthony Wong, Floating Life) company. Anything beyond that is anybody's guess. There is something about a suitcase full of cash, policemen, South American mercenaries, drugs, and assassins. Lack of plot is standard in Hong Kong, but Hark and Hui Koan (Black Mask) have even less of a story than what is usual. The characters in Time and Tide switch quickly between Spanish, Cantonese, and Mandarin, but most people will have no clue about differences in the latter two.

This story actually hinders the rest of the movie. Time and Tide ends up as a series of insane action sequences, which surprisingly are not as audacious as one would expect. They are still impressive, but not so far out as to make the audience gasp in awe. Stunts can only carry a movie so far. Tse and Bai both contribute songs to the movie, which play across the screen with translations along the bottom like other films in this genre. One particularly painful element is one of Jack's enemies, a dreadlocked, gun-toting thug. He speaks in English, and has the misfortune of having to recite inane threats that make him sound like an idiot. Even funnier is that the English subtitles to not always match his English dialogue. So the moral is that Hark can now makes movies the way he wants to, they just may not be the movies everybody (excluding Asian audiences and young men here) want to see.

Mongoose Rates It: Not That Good.
1 hour, 50 minutes, Cantonese, Mandarin, and Spanish with English and Chinese subtitles, Rated R for pervasive strong violence and brief drug use.

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