Ashes of Time Redux Wong Kar Wai

Ashes of Time Redux Wong Kar Wai
Ashes of Time is director Wong Kar Wai's most challenging film. He famously broke from filming for two months to make the more straightforward Chungking Express, with most of the same cast and crew, in order to clear his head. Even while watching this new Redux director's cut, with tighter pacing and a new soundtrack, it's easy to see why. There is no narrative plot, rather, Wong took the characters from the Louis Cha novel The Legend of the Condor Heroes and dropped them into an art house Wuxia film, preserving few, if any, of the novel's themes or its plot. The film's central character is Ouyang Feng, a middleman for a mixed bag of bounty hunter swordsmen and their clients. Each of the bounty hunters has their own quirk: one is blind, another wears no shoes, while a third has lost his memory. It's through them that we learn about Ouyang Feng and the lost love that has turned him into a hardened, unsympathetic man. The film is beautifully shot by Wong's regular cinematographer, Christopher Doyle. The movie has a hazy feel to it, as if everything that's happening is a dream, no doubt reflective of Feng's general indifference to the people around him. And while this complicates an already non-existent narrative that's certainly not helped by Brigitte Lin's double Yin/Yang character, patience and even multiple viewings will be rewarded with one of Wong's most beautiful films. What's particularly unfortunate for a film like this is the lack of a director's commentary. In lieu of one we're given a 12-minute feature of interviews with Wong, the cast and the crew discussing the making of the original film and a separate Q&A with the director. While not ideal, both bonus features provide useful insights into a complex and moving film. (Sony)