TIME AND TIDE
Director: Tsui Hark
Cast: Nicholas Tse, Wu Bai, Candy Lo, Cathy Tsui, Anthony Wong Chau-Sang, Couto Remotigue Jr.
MPAA Rating: (for pervasive strong violence and brief drug use)
Running Time: 1:53
Release Date: 5/4/01
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Review by Mark Dujsik
If there ever comes a time that anyone involved with an action movie needs inspiration, my advice is to just look at Time and Tide. Hereís a film with an almost incomprehensible plot, as little characterization as possible, and some of the best action sequences Iíve seen in some time. Guess which one of these made the most impact on me. This is the kind of film where at times you sit, jaw dropped, in disbelief. These are real people doing insanely incredible stunts, each one growing more and more intense as the film progresses. Itís an action movie made completely outside the glitzy Hollywood circuit. This is a film with lots of style, but itís more gritty than glossyóreal than fake. I love watching something different when it works, and this works.
As I said, the plot is pretty much incoherent and inconsequential, but it starts with a guy named Tyler (Nicholas Tse) who meets an undercover cop named Ah Jo (Cathy Tsui) at a bar. After a night theyíd probably want to forget (if they could remember it in the first place), she becomes pregnant. To help care for the child, Tyler begins working for a security agency run by Uncle Ji (Anthony Wong Chau-Sang) and slipping his pay under her door. After a couple of jobs, the movie presents a robbery, and this is around where I began either not understanding or not caring about the plot. It doesnít matter either way, though. I do know that somehow a mercenary named Jack (Wu Bai) gets involved with Tyler, and thereís a South American cartel involved with Jack. Of course, the cartel will cause a problem, and this is most definitely where I simply gave up following the plot.
What ultimately happens in this situation is that the movie becomes a series of images and sequences, but these are startlingly impressive images and sequences. Thereís a moment during the robbery when an explosion freezes, but this is only the beginning. This sets us up for a sequence later when we are actually brought inside an explosion. The film has a constant build to it. One stunt or special effect is not good enough, so the movie tries to outdo itself. It achieves each and every time. Take note of a seemingly unimportant scene in which Tyler drives a woman to the airport in reverse. At first it seems like a simple sight gag, but it actually prepares us for a later car chase. That car chase ends with a man using a fire hose to jump down to a freeway. Once again, itís incredible, but itís merely to prepare us for a gun-battle in which people actually rappel down an apartment building.
This is a film that relies on the success of these scenes, and I could see a Hollywood production of this material filled to the brim with special effects and lots of rapid-fire cuts. Not here. These are actual people rappelling from the side of the building, driving the cars, swinging from fire hoses, and weíre allowed to actually appreciate the skill needed to do these things. Thereís a lot of similarities between the stunts here and some that Jackie Chan does. First, theyíre real. Second, they involve the environments in which a fight takes place. Beyond the use of the fire hose, thereís a fight in the film where Tyler stops an assassination attempt. Note how just about everything in the background is used in this fight. I really admire the spontaneous feeling you get from such a fight sequence.
Time and Tide has its inherent flaws, but I simply donít care. For anyone tired of incredibly glitzy and gimmicky Hollywood actioneers, Time and Tide is a breath of fresh air. Anyone who has yet to experience the so-called Hong Kong actioneer, this is a solid introduction to the genre. All and all, Time and Tide is, to be completely unprofessional for a moment, really damn cool.
Copyright © 2001 by Mark Dujsik. All rights reserved.