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:: Time And Tide (seunlau ngaklau)

“Time and Tide” is Tsui Hark’s first film since his rather unspectacular Hollywood efforts- the Jean Claude Van Damme vehicles, “Double Team” and “Knock Off”. Hark is a legend of Hong Kong film making, with over fifty films to his credit, including the cult favourites, “Peking Opera Blues”, “A Chinese Ghost Story” and the “Once Upon a Time in China” series.

“Time and Tide” is the story of Tyler, a bartender who has a drunken one-night stand with a lesbian policewoman and makes her pregnant. Needing some quick cash to help pay for the imminent baby he takes a job as a bodyguard run by the dodgy Uncle Ji. He meets a man named Jack in a shop and Jack later helps him as he tries to protect Jack’s father in law at his birthday party. His father in law is a gang boss, and Jack’s wife is also heavily pregnant. Soon Jack and Tyler’s friendship is tested as they are placed on opposing sides of the ensuing shootouts. Add some gunmen from South America, a mysterious bag of cash and an understanding police captain and you have the rest of the plot. If all of this sounds confusing, that’s because it is. The story is simply a thread to string the action pieces together, the John Woo staple of villain mirroring hero does not make for a satisfying theme, but you don’t really get the chance to care.

The action sequences are brilliantly staged, with some audacious camera moves and special effects that make for a kinetic and visceral experience. It’s a pity that more Hollywood action films don’t take a leaf out of Hark’s book. A fight sequence will truly never be the same again. It seems that every trick has been deployed, from split screens to freeze frames and all the slow motion you could want. Without a story however, it does begin to get a little dull, with even the whiz-bang finale, including, of course, a mid-gunfight baby delivery, unable to hold the tension.

The film stars three recording stars and a model, Nicholas Tse as Tyler, a Hong Kong singer and actor, Wu Bai as Jack, a Taiwanese top selling record star and Candy Lo, a Hong Kong musician as Hui, in her film debut. Cathy Tsui, as Jo, the mother of Tyler’s baby, has been a model since fifteen, and “Time and Tide” is her second film. All four are extremely photogenic, and at one point three of them sing along together.

“Time and Tide” is worth seeing for the action sequences alone, but will probably only reach hardcore Hong Kong film fans, as it does not have the story or characterisation of crossover films like “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”.

Screening at the Lumiere Cinemas