May 2001
Time and Tide :

by Wilson Morales (New York)

Time and Tide

Distributor: Tristar Pictures
Director: Tsui Hark
Screenwriters: Koan Hui and Tsui Hark
Cast: Nicholas Tse, Wu Bai, Anthony Wong & Cathy Chui

Before America started recognizing names such as Ang Lee, Chow Yun-Fat, and John Woo, there was Tsui Hark. Who is Tsui Hark? He’s only the guy who produced and directed crossover foreign hits such as “The Killer,” “A Better Tomorrow 1 & 2,” “Once Upon A Time in China 1 & 2” and “Black Mask.” He introduced Jet Li to international stardom. A few years ago, he was given a couple of studio pictures to direct, “Knock Off” and “Double Team.” Both starred Jean Claude Van Damme and the films were modestly successful, but never established Hark into a household name like John Woo is known today. Now he’s back with a new film, “Time and Tide,” an action paced thriller that should give Tsui Hark the respect he should have had years ago.

The film begins with Tyler (Nicholas Tse) trying to make something of his life in Hong Kong. One night while having too many drinks, he hooks up with Ah Jo (Cathy Chui), an off-duty cop who also has had too many drinks. Months later, he discovers she’s pregnant and wants nothing to do with him. Trying to do the right thing and look responsible to Ah Jo, Tyler takes a job as a bodyguard for gangster Uncle Ji (Anthony Wong). Much to her dislike, Tyler sends Ah Jo half his earnings. While on the job, he befriends Jack (Wu Bai), a once disillusioned mercenary determined to begin life anew with the woman he just married. Although the two men find themselves working together to foil an assassination attempt, their partnership is short-lived. Through uncontrollable circumstances, they are on opposite sides of a gangland war and mayhem ensues.

What makes “Time and Tide” an exciting film is the kinetics of the scenes. The story at times gets convoluted with its many subplots, quick cutaways and the rapid gun play. Based on the circumstances, it also has a romance story that doesn’t seem contrived. Foreign films were always the second best thing to see before the wave of independent films started bullying the foreign films in specialty markets. Asian films or any foreign film is always a hard sell to the American public. Who wants to read subtitles after a hard’s day. With the success of “Life is Beautiful” and “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”, public opinion is starting to sway towards this market. With “Time and Tide”, Tsui Hark has returned to the roots that made him the “Sam Peckingpah of Hollywood”.