Screened as part of NZIFF 2001
Alternately slapdash and sensational, Time and Tide begins as a parody of Wong Kar-wai, complete with garish night-town expressionism, philosophical voice-over, and Latin American fantasies. Enjoyably outrageous, the movie ends with a blatant attempt to trump the finale of Hard Boiled, the last HK feature made by Tsui’s onetime protégé Woo…
Tyler, the movie’s nominal hero… is a 21-year-old bartender who manages to bring home Jo, a lesbian undercover policewoman. Nine months later, they meet in a supermarket and he sees that she is pregnant – thus is born a sense of responsibility that she in no way encourages. Tyler gets a job as a bodyguard, bonding with an older toughie, Jack (Taiwan’s superstar rocker Wu Bai) – back from years working in Latin America as a mercenary – after they somehow foil a birthday party hit on triad boss Mr Hong, who happens to be the estranged father of Jack’s pregnant wife, Hui (singer Candy Lo). Still with me?
Things become more complex once Jack’s former associates, an inexplicably Spanish-speaking, mainly Chinese mob from Brazil, come to the town they dismissively call ‘Cockroach City.’ For some reason, they need to eliminate Mr Hong. But by the time Time and Tide mutates into a gangster flick with rival hit teams, narrative logic has long since been trampled in the dust kicked up by several wild chases through huge shopping malls, bumper-car escapades in skyscraper parking garages, and – most spectacularly – a near-military assault on the huge, moldering apartment complex-cum-dovecote that Jack calls home… Snipers stake out the apartment even as Jack crashes through the window and zips down the side of the building, setting the scene for the sort of dangling aerial antics in airshafts and stairwells that the producers of the megabuck Spiderman should count themselves lucky to even approximate. Tsui amuses himself with this midair ballet for a good 20 minutes before destroying the building in a digital explosion.
The cheesy apocalypse seems crucial – Time and Tide is pure video game. ‘New target, new information’ is a key bit of dialogue… Jagged and jokey, filled with glam young people, lyrical Canto-Pop, and narrative non sequiturs, Time and Tide is Tsui’s version of neo-new wave. — J. Hoberman, Village Voice, 3/5/01