Ashes of Time Redux | Film | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Ashes of Time Redux

Memory hurts more than swords in Wong Kar-wai's drama set in long-ago China

A broken-hearted man retreats to the desert, where he sets up shop as an assassin-for-hire. He ruminates about killing more than he actually draws his sword, and his hut becomes the focal point for half-a-dozen other characters seeking closure through acts of revenge. This dream-like drama is a slightly re-mixed version of Hong Kong director Wong Kar-wai's 1994 Ashes of Time. Though re-edited for clarity, Ashes is still a confusing story -- delivered in several different (at least, I thought so) voice-overs -- that ultimately makes a certain sense for the patient viewer. Fans of Wong Kar-wai's more contemporary glossy melodramas may be put off by this wuxia (a stylized, Eastern adventure genre in which solitary heroes pursue knowledge or honor, and whose quests are often marked by the slightly fantastic). On the other hand, Ashes won't satisfy fans of martial-arts flicks; it's really for those who wouldn't mind a meditative film about love, loss, the passage of time and the vagaries of memory spiced up with the odd bit of slow-motion swordplay. The gorgeous cinematography is courtesy of the director's right-hand lensman, Christopher Doyle. Color-saturated landscapes and a top-notch cast, which includes Leslie Cheung, both Tony Leungs, Maggie Cheung and Brigitte Lin, help keep this occasionally ponderous affair afloat. In Mandarin and Cantonese, with subtitles. Starts Fri., Dec. 12. Harris

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