© Splendid/Twentieth Century Fox

Ashes of Time: Redux (Dong xie xi du zhongji ban)
Hong Kong/China/Taiwan 2009

Opening 17 Sep 2009

Directed by: Kar Wai Wong
Writing credits: Louis Cha, Kar Wai Wong
Principal actors: Brigitte Lin, Leslie Cheung, Maggie Cheung, Tony Leung Chiu Wai, Jacky Cheung

By Chinese director Wong Kar Wai, this film originally premiered at the Toronto film festival in 1994. It then went on to open in Asia and New York City. Then, 14 years later, after being tweaked into a Redux version, it once again played in at least eleven festivals and will now come, finally mainstream, to Germany.

Ouyang Feng (Leslie Cheung) has left his family (wife, brother) due to great disappointment in them and their moral failings. He gives it all up to live in the desert in isolation. He works as an intermediary between swordsmen and individuals who wish to hire a fighter to right a grudge or take revenge. One man visits him to share some magic wine which will help to forget the past. Another is going blind and wishes to return home before he loses all sight entirely. A woman camps down near him under a tree to wait for her husband or her redemption. There are flashbacks to his earlier life, but still the situation is not quite clear. No matter. The storyline is unimportant; bits of lives come and go like a fairy tale.

The old-fashioned costumes indicate a time perhaps 200 years ago. The camera work is so artistic that each shot could be printed out and hung on the wall with predominate colors of brown and blue. The music is beautiful and swells at all the right moments. Familiar actors and Wong favorites Tony Leung Chiu Wai and Maggie Cheung appear. The film allows you to escape for 93 minutes into another world where, really, nothing is important but a sensation of beauty. Often I was reminded of another film: The Fall by Tarsem Singh. Strangely, Leslie Cheung seemed to be a Chinese remake of Johnny Depp (as odd as that seems) and Depp could have easily and believably played this main role, a Caucasian playing an Asian in a Hong Kong film. Don’t believe it? Go and see if I am ri (Becky Tan)

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