In early Republican China, feuding warlords are fighting over neighbouring lands to expand their power and in doing so, plunges the rest of China into conflict. Hou Chieh, a young army leader, has conquered the township of Dengfeng with his avowed brother, Tsao Man and with thousands dead or injured, there is little in the way of resistance.
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To add some psychodrama, Chan gives each of his three lead cops a different motive for chasing the bad guy. Chan (Nicholas Tse) is mad because his fiancée was killed when the bad guys blew up the armored car. Carson (Shawn Yue) is mad because the bad guys humiliated him. Wai (played by Jaycee Chan, Jackie Chan's son) is mad because the bad guys kidnapped his brother, who was also a cop, and probably killed him. Of the three, Chan and Carson are rule breakers who can't stand authority, while Wai is by the books all the way.
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Sarcasm aside, New Police Story (which bears no connection to the many many Police Story movies that have come before it) is a very watchable addition to the genre. Its kitchen-sink approach gives us not only Jackie Chan in an unusually deep and nuanced performance but also a gaggle of Hong Kong cinema's young A-listers chewing up and kicking down the scenery as they portray badass teen criminals with enough time and money to indulge in a string of wild crimes.
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It all starts off quite epic. Back in China's distant mystical past, there's a kingdom in which a battle had been waged, and a young girl scavenging food from dead soldiers. She's offered a tempting proposition by the Goddess Manshen, a floating apparition who seems to like messing with mortals: the girl will have everything she's ever desired, but everyone she loves will be taken away from her - unless time runs backward, snow falls in the spring, and the dead rise from the grave. The girl, not having a lot of options, agrees. This sets the stage for a grand, widescreen, Technicolor love triangle two decades down the line, the sort of thing one would imagine that Kaige could pull off in his sleep. The result is something quite closer to self-parody.
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We first meet An Xin mopping up in the Beijing tae kwan do school where she works. Described as a "bumpkin" by the city slickers who practice there, she catches the eye of man-about-town Yang Rui (Yulong Liu), a young playboy who has a brand new Jeep, a Vuitton-obsessed girlfriend, and lots of cologne in his bathroom. It's love at first sight for Yang Rui, but An Xin brushes him aside saying she's not interested and hinting that she has many dark secrets. When he persists she even kicks him in the face, but she can't shake him, and soon she's succumbing to his charms as he swears off his gallivanting lifestyle.
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The most cinematically fluid fists-aflyin' guns-ablazin' shoot-em-up in long time, "Time and Tide" is such a funny, thrilling, kinetic barrage of brilliant Hong Kong action that getting totally lost in the plot is almost part of the fun.
Here's what I know for sure: Our streetwise young hipster hero (Nicholas Tse) is trying to score some fast cash working as an unlicensed bodyguard because he wants to do right by a beautiful lesbian cop (Cathy Chui) he got pregnant during a drunken one-night stand. His boss is a loan shark who got into the protection racket to "hire" his debtors to work off the money they owe. Tse befriends a reformed mercenary (Wu Bai), who is being pressured to kill his own father-in-law and eventually targets the mobster Tse is protecting instead. And there is a briefcase full of money.
Beyond those facts, this movie is a 100 mph blur of inventive and wildly entertaining -- but nearly impossible to follow (at least on a first viewing) -- intrigue, gunplay, stunts and martial arts showdowns. Why it works in spite of being so bloody abstruse can only be attributed to the genius of writer-director-genre legend Tsui Hark, the man behind "Chinese Ghost Story," Jet Li's "Once Upon a Time in China" flicks, Jackie Chan's "Twin Dragons" and 37 more movies as a director.
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