Love in the Time of Twilight
1995, NR, 107 min. Directed by Tsui Hark. Starring Charlie Yeung Choi-Nee, Nicky Wu Chi-Lung.
REVIEWED By Joey O'Bryan, Fri., April 12, 1996
A charming romance that finds time for ghosts, time travel, disembodied body parts, hideously deformed monsters, and the greatest bile-spewing set-piece since the infamous “Mr. Creole” sketch in Monty Python's Meaning of Life, Love in the Time of Twilight is the latest effort from famed Hong Kong genre-bender Tsui Hark (Peking Opera Blues). Since Hark has gone out of his way to re-team the stars of his 1994 film The Lovers (pop singers-turned-actors Charlie Yeung Choi-nee and Nicky Wu Chi-lung), one might expect another melodramatic romance along similar lines, but that is not the case here. Love in the Time of Twilight is a much busier, kinetic piece of work, stylistically falling somewhere in between Shanghai Blues and Chinese Ghost Story in the thematic landscape of Hark's filmography, although this movie is certainly inferior to these other classics. The plot, nearly impossible to describe in so short a space, is a lively jumble of cute romantic comedy, Back to the Future-inspired time-travel excitement, and a surreal, special-effects-driven gagfest: Yeung and Wu portray a pair of mischievous youngsters who are looking for love and become bitter rivals following a series of disastrous run-ins and misunderstandings. Sounds simple, right? But when Wu gets mixed up in a convoluted bank robbery involving a sultry femme fatale-turned-movie star, a ruthless villain named “Devil King,” and a box full of hidden guns that leave him stone cold dead, Love in the Time of Twilight shifts into overdrive. Wu returns as a wayward spirit, now endowed with the supernatural ability to transcend time and space, and proceeds to enlist Yeung into helping him go backwards in time in order to stop his own death. Further complicating this already complicated mission are any number of the usual temporal quirks, not the least of which is a wild alternate dimension to which our heroes are sporadically banished -- where a single step can take two weeks and the slightest of wrong moves can send one's head spinning off its neck, or leave one's lips lying on the ground. Needless to say, despite Hark's colorful direction, some nifty effects work, and the enthusiastic performances given by the two leads, Love in the Time of Twilight won't please everyone; it's simply too oddball and silly a mixture, but it is packed with lots of unpredictability and charm, and should serve as a nice diversion for Hong Kong film buffs.