If I could get away with it, my entire review of Time and Tide would read, "Wow."
Because I can't, I'll say I've never been gladder that a film didn't star Jean-Claude Van Damme.
Two years since the double disasters that were Double Team and Knock Off (and four years since his last Van Dammeless film), Tsui Hark returns to directing films in Hong Kong. And boy howdy does he return. Time and Tide is a stylistic tour de force. Tsui has taken pages from the books of Wong Kar Wai, Luc Besson, and John Woo, added his trademark storytelling and gorgeous cinematography and produced a movie constantly in motion, full of both people and cameras that can defy gravity.
Tyler (Nicholas Tse, a lot more endearing here than in Gen-X Cops) is a bartender with a problem. He got a young woman drunk and then pregnant. And she's an undercover cop. And she has a lesbian lover, who is also a cop. To rectify this situation to some degree Tyler takes a job as an unlicensed bodyguard and gives the money to the woman. If only his employers would give him a real gun, he'd be all set.
Jack (Wu Bai) also has a problem. His wife is pregnant, and some of his old mercenary buddies from Brazil have stolen a lot of money from the Brazilian army and want his help to launder it in Hong Kong. Jack refuses, mainly because the leader of the mercenaries, Miguel, wants Jack to assassinate his wife's father. Tyler briefly befriends Jack, but an escalating game of cat and mouse between Jack and the Miguel threatens his life.
The plot here isn't anything special, and the script feels like Wong Kar Wai on speed. But the action scenes are some of the best I've seen. Jack and Miguel could give Spider-Man a run for his money, especially in the awe-inspiring shoot-out in an apartment complex in Kowloon. This may not be the most realistic action movie ever made, but it will make your jaw drop, simply because it is so audacious. Welcome back, Tsui.
As usual, Columbia TriStar gives us a great looking disc. The feature looks great, and I couldn't find anything wrong with the four sound track options (Cantonese and English dubbed, both in Dolby Surround and Dolby Digital 5.1).
The main extra is a commentary by Tsui Hark. His English is not perfect, but he's a lot easier to listen to than John Woo. True to his producer roots Tsui spends a lot of time giving credit where credit is due, and he talks a lot about the cost cutting methods they used. His discussion also covers the technical aspects of the film, though not quite as heavily as I would have liked. Towards the end Tsui lapses into narrating the action, but overall it's a worthwhile track.
There are also trailers for this movie, Once Upon a Time in China, Miracles, and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, and talent files for Tsui Hark and Nicholas Tse.
Scott Hamilton, 8/6/2001