It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
I denounced "The Mummy Returns" for abandoning its characters and using its plot "only as a clothesline for special effects and action sequences." Now I recommend "Time and Tide," which does exactly the same thing. But there is a difference. While both films rely on nonstop, wall-to-wall action, "Time and Tide" does a better job, and plugs its action and stunt sequences into the real world with everyday props, instead of relying on computers to generate vast and meaningless armies of special effects creatures.
It's one thing to create an Egyptian canine sand warrior on your computer, multiply it by 1,000, and send the results into battle. It's another thing to show a man rappelling down the sides of the interior courtyard of a high-rise apartment building, with the camera following him in a vertiginous descent. In "The Mummy Returns," you're thinking of the effects. In "Time and Tide," you're thinking you've never seen anything like that before.
"Time and Tide" is by Tsui Hark, a master of the martial arts action genre, returning to his Hong Kong roots after a series of Hollywood-financed co-productions starring Jean-Claude Van Damme. To describe its plot would be futile. No sane moviegoer should expect to understand most of what happens from a narrative point of view, beyond the broadest outlines of who is more or less good, and who is more or less bad.
In general terms, the hero Tyler (Nicholas Tse) is trapped in a war between two drug cartels, while simultaneously tracking a lesbian policewoman named Ah Jo (Cathy Tsui), who was made pregnant by Tyler during an evening neither one can quite remember. The situation is further complicated by Tyler's friendship with the older mercenary Jack (Wu Bai), who has returned from adventures in South America and has also impregnated a young woman.