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In the mode of "Leon, The Professional" and "La Femme Nikita", a former professional assassin has left his past behind and created a new and honest life for himself and his family. When events force him back into the world of crime, he discovers that nothing, even in his carefully designed new life, is quite what it seems.
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Every time you think you've seen everything action movies have to offer, along comes one that makes your jaw drop. Tsui Hark's Time and Tide is one of those movies. The plot careens all over the place like a drunken driver: it starts out when a bartender in Hong Kong named Tyler (Nicholas Tse) sleeps with a lesbian undercover cop and gets her pregnant. To make money to give her to help support the baby, he takes a job with a bodyguard firm run by a loan shark--all of the other bodyguards are men who owe the loan shark money and are trying to work off their debt. The firm gets an assignment protecting a wealthy executive, who has a daughter who's married to a butcher named Juan (Wu Bai) who's actually a former mercenary--OK, this is where things really go off the rails, but never fear: you will not be bothered by the story. You will find yourself caring about these characters, even though you're not entirely sure who they are. You will not be bored for a single moment of this movie, and when you get to the sequence where the mercenary and the head of the heist gang (who are former partners--maybe) are having a shootout while rapelling down the walls of a gigantic Hong Kong tenement, time will suspend and you will gaze in rapt astonishment, unable to understand how anyone could have conceived of these astonishing action sequences, let alone brought them to delirious, stunningly graceful life. Time and Tide is amazing, and Tsui Hark (Peking Opera Blues, Once upon a Time in China, Green Snake) is one of the geniuses of contemporary cinema. --Bret Fetzer
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