Film Reviews

TIME AND TIDE

By • May 11th, 2001 •

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TriStar Pictures

It’s May of 2001 and already the year has produced two films that are both complex enough and good enough to require an audience to really think. Memento, the first, requires more than one sitting if you are to be convinced (and you may not be) that all the pieces add up to a logical whole. The same is true of Tsui Hark’s new film, his most difficult mozaic, employing the latest editorial techniques and visual manipulations to weave a high-voltage variation on a familiar Hong Kong cinema story – about criminals who are enemies by lot, but form a reluctant friendship based on ethics. The narrative moves so fast, and the technical treatment of it is so dense with cuts and visual pyrotecnics, that at the end one isn’t sure why the characters did all the things they did, let alone who they all were…and yet, like Memento, the tableau is rich enough, the direction and script strong enough, to justify paying the film a second visit to see if the filmmaker indeed pulled it off, or just tried to slip it by you.

Hark trademarks abound. The violence is stylized and keeps reaching for new effects and story situations we haven’t yet seen in this rousing genre. There is a dizzyingly choreographed gunfight – in the center of which a woman is giving birth as the protagonist simultaneously tries to defend himself and deliver the baby – which takes the Hong Kong action set piece to a new imaginative height. I’ve heard Hark described as the Dario Argento of China, but the analogy diminishes his achievements: true, he more than any of his peers seems to try every chaotic angle and act of brutality imaginable just because he reached into his mind and pulled them out, but unlike Argento, he also manages to draw compassionate, effective performances out of his actors. Additionally, he has a sweet way with female leads, painting them as impish as well as strong, that dates back to Peking Opera Blues.

It’s early yet to pounce on films as the ‘best’ this or the ‘best’ that, but Time and Tide is certainly memorable, substantial, experimental, and may well be on some lists when December rolls around.

Read Mike Lodes’ interview with Time and Tide director Tsui Hark


Credits:
Written by Koan Hui and Tsui Hark.
Directors of Photography: Ko Chiu Lam and Herman Yau.
Music by Tommy Wai.
Editing by Marco Mak.
Produced and directed by Tsui Hark.

Cast:
Nicholas Tse
Wu Bai
Anthony Wong
Joventino Couto Remotigue
Candy Lo
Cathy Chu.

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