Tsui Hark is an old hand when it comes to filmmaking. The veteran Hong Kong director has either directed or produced over 40 films in his native land, and has taken the John Woo route to Hollywood success by directing Jean Claude Van Damme in two American/Hong Kong productions. Not surprisingly his two Van Damme collaborations are considered some of the worst movies of his life.
“Time and Tide” on the other hand, is somewhat more successful, and signals Hark’s return to his Hong Kong roots. Rather this is necessitated by his failure in American markets, or just a need to drop a dead weight like Van Damme, is unclear. The movie itself is a combination of themes and style that I’ve come to expect from Hong Kong movie — it’s action-oriented with sprinkles of comedy (sometimes very inappropriate comedy at extremely inappropriate times) and add to that a confusing storyline that meanders until the money runs out and the final shootout invariably must take place.
Even now I’m picking out the pieces of the movie’s “storyline” out of my head. Let’s see… Tyler is a young punk, with no prospects, who, one drunken night, gets a lesbian cop pregnant. The problem with that is — well, the cop’s a lesbian, and she won’t take him, and is determined to carry the child to term by herself. Consumed by an insane need to take care of his responsibility, Tyler gets a job as a bodyguard. Why anyone would hire a 21-year old punk with no prospects to take someone’s life into their hands is anybody’s guess. But they do hire him, and he does foul up quite a bit.
Enter Jack, a retired drug dealer/assassin who retired because his girlfriend, the daughter of a rich criminal, was pregnant. Jack, you see, also has an insane need to take care of his responsibility, and Jack just happens to be older than Tyler. Needless to say, the two men meet, become friends, and their two worlds meet quite unexpected when Tyler’s bodyguard team is assigned to guard some drug dealers that Jack has been blackmailed by his old gang to kill — which he does, coming into conflict with Tyler.
And a whole lot of other stuff happens.
The point of “Time and Tide” is to showcase Tsui Hark’s newfound ability to film high-octane action in urban areas. There is a running (and flying, and jumping, and sliding, and falling) gunfight in, out, on top of, underneath, and around a housing project that is impossible to describe.
The final action sequence takes place in an airport, a concert, and in the basement of the airport. What you have to know about “Time and Tide” is that the story is even more convoluted and stupid than both of Tom Cruise’s fake-James Bond “Mission Impossible” movies combined. It’s, well, ridiculous, and character motivations are even more dumb down.
Hark Tsui (director) / Koan Hui, Hark Tsui (screenplay)
CAST: Nicholas Tse …. Tyler
Wu Bai …. Jack
Candy Lo …. Ah Hui