Unfortunately, over time, directors don’t necessarily improve in their trade — as a matter of fact, it can deteriorate even further from an unenviable starting position.I fail to understand why The Ken is holding a three-movie retrospective on Tsui Hark; last week they showed two of his older efforts, “Once Upon a Time in China” one and two, and this week, all to itself, is one of his more recent movies, “Time and Tide.” When I saw “Once Upon a Time…” the only American movie of his that I could remember was the terminally stupid Jean-Claude Van Damme vehicle “Maximum Risk.” In addition to that, and with Van Damme again, I forgot (understandably) his other two major American releases “Double Team” and “Knock Off.” So again, I repeat, why is The Ken holding a retrospective on him? Surely there has to be a better example of a Hong Kong action film or set thereof that is not done by John Woo. Anyhow, this mush consists of an incomprehensible plot of one illegal bodyguard to return the money that some vigilante stole. Whatever is going on in the storytelling department isn’t working here. I figured that at least if the story was inane or pointless (all of the above, plus more) that there might be some stunning martial artistry. Wrong. The fight scenes were few and far between, and they were lazily choreographed and unimpressive. Hark rips-off trademark stunts like Woo’s gun-to-gun face off (à la “The Killer”), or slo-mo stunts and bullets loading and flying out from the chamber (à la “The Matrix”), etc. It’s tacky, and I think it would be embarrassing to the originating directors. And the whole time your eyes are constantly being roused from one shot to the next and all around again because Hark doesn’t have the restraint to keep his camera still. The one compliment I can pay “Time and Tide” is in the music department, courtesy of Tommy Wai.
With Nicholas Tse, Anthony Wong, Candy Lo, Cathy Chui and Joventino Couto Remotigue. Written by Koan Hui and Hark.