TSUI HARK’S TIME AND TIDE — A REVIEW BY FILMMAKER & GUEST CRITIC DAMIAN K. LAHEY

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‘Time and Tide’ (2000) dir. Tsui Hark

Hands down, this is one of my favorite action movies. Wicked stunts, wonderful characters, well placed humor – this is a film that comes together in a perfect blend of movie madness!

But what I LOVE about it more than anything is that there is NOTHING to compare it to. When I recommend this film to people I am not comparing it to other iconic actioners. I am not saying stuff like: ‘Dude, it’s like ‘Die Hard’ meets ‘Speed”’. No way, ‘Time and Tide’ is its own thing. Such a singular achievement in a genre bogged down in derivative mediocrity.

Check out this plot. Our directionless hero has a drunken one night stand with a lesbian cop, gets her pregnant and then becomes part of a security detail for a shady businessman in order to take care of their child. He winds up entangled in a convoluted web of shifting alliances, stolen money, violent mercenaries and along the way learns the value of friendship and true love. Sound confusing? It is. But it works. Amazingly so.

And here’s something else that this film has to be commended for. In many instances the non action sequences in films of this type are merely filler. You know it to be true. We’re just biding our time during uninspired plot points in order to get to the next action sequence. In ‘Time and Tide’ everything is watchable. Every beat is electric. Everything naturally propels itself to the next scene. The narrative hits a magic sweet spot where even when it falters – we are swept up in the emotionalism, performances, and aesthetics so that it all seems JUST RIGHT.

Serious credit needs to go not just to Hark’s direction but to the vibrant cinematography of Chiu-Lam Ko and Herman Yau as well as the natural chemistry between actors Nicholas Tse and Wu Bai with fantastic support from Anthony Wong and Candy Lo. It is said that the legendary Hark found a different film than what he originally shot and intended to make while in post-production. And this is certainly reflected in the film’s eccentric rhythm. For those that thrive on action flicks that have their own voice – this one’s for you!

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