Sunday, September 8, 2013
ASHES OF TIME...REDUX (1994)
Written & Directed By: Wong Kar Wai
Based On The Book “The Eagle Shooting Heores” By: Louis Cha
Cinematography By: Christopher Doyle & Pung-Leung Kwan
Editor: Patrick Tam & Kit-Wai Kai
Cast: Brigitte Lin, Leslie Cheung, Maggie Cheung, Tony Leung,
Ou-yang Feng lives in the middle of a desert, where he acts as a middle man to various swordsmen in ancient China. One of those swordsmen is Huang Yao-shi, who has found some magic wine that causes one to forget the past. At another time, Huang met Mu-rong Yin and under the influence of drink, promised to marry Mu-rong's sister Mu-rong Yang. Huang jilts her, and Mu-rong Yin hires Ou-yang to kill Huang. But then Mu-rong Yang hires Ou-yang to protect Huang. This is awkward, because Mu-rong Yang and Mu-rong Yin are in reality the same person. Other unrelated plot lines careen about. Among them is Ou-yang's continuing efforts to destroy a band of horse thieves. Oy-yang recruits another swordsman, a man who is going blind and wants to get home to see his wife before his sight goes completely. The swordsman is killed. Ou-yang then meets another swordsman who doesn't like wearing shoes. Oy-yang sends this man after the horse thieves, with better results. We then find out what a man must give...
The original cut was released in 1994 i am reviewing the re-edited version of 2008
I will admit that I haven't watched the original cut yet. This is the same film only re-edited to put emphasis on different things and look at the film in a different way. Sort of like what was attempted when the Mel Gibson film PAYBACK was put out on DVD re-edited more to the director's original vision before the production was taken outbid his hands and re-shot and re-edited it's also similar to the APOCALYPSE NOW REDUX putting back in cut scenes to supposedly make the film richer in content and context.
This is a great movie... To have on in the background of a party continuously playing, but sitting through it is a challenge. I love Wong kar wai's work but I couldn't wait for it to end. It was like sitting through a music video with it's camera work and rapid editing. Though a music video with a thin plot that seems a simple reason to link scenes of action together.
This film feels moody as you have to be in a certain type of mood to watch, more open and accepting of story it presents. I believe the reason I didn’t enjoy it as much as Wai’s other films is that i saw the masterpieces first and came back to watch this film which doesn’t match the greatness of his other films though you can see the seeds. It almost feels unfocused half of the time as to where it is going or what it wishes to convey.
While the film is visually arresting. The story begins to get confusing and boring. When the film is on the verge of getting too boring it redeems itself with an action scene.
Wong kar wai shows that he is capable of stunning action sequences, which are rather rare in his films, but then he messes them up in this film by making the. In slow motion. Almost like a delayed slow motion capture. Which messes up the fluidity of the choreographed action, but when the scenes run in regular speed they are a sight to behold. This film had an exhausting effect on Wong Kar Wai. While on hiatus during the editing process he wrote and CHUNGKING EXPRESS to "clear his head".
This is a visually beautiful movie, low budget with a few too many close ups for no reason it seems. I will prefer and enjoy the first cut just like APOCALYPSE NOW REDUX.
What is interesting about Wong kar wai when it comes to most of his films is that he is a visual stylist as a director, but not in the same way directors like Tim Burton works most of the time in his movies. The camera stays still and he let's the sort be about the characters as they reveal relationships and the big story. Now when this is happening the lighting and colors are usually immaculate and use the landscapes to their fullest. And when the camera moves the angles he uses in the scenes are strange, but breathtaking that you feel the movie so much more because at the heart of most of his films are relationships.
It's like Woody Allen films with less dialogue, no comedy, no archetypes yet more open and visual. More seems to be at stake and the characters are usually young with more modest incomes plus more sensual then sexual.
It hurts to give this film such a low grade. He has made strides since this film it is an early work that hints at his future vision and genius. Still one of the better and More Interesting filmmakers still working today