Windblown, with a sage and playful Zen vibe, Wong Kar Wai's Ashes of Time Redux is a color-saturated, slo-mo martial arts piece about time, memory, love, regret, betrayal.
A painstakingly restored, recut version of the Hong Kong director's 1994 third film, Ashes of Time boasts a Who's Who of Asian stars - Leslie Cheung, Maggie Cheung, Carina Lau, Brigitte Lin, and the two Tony Leungs (Ka Fai and Chiu Wai), among them.
Leslie Cheung plays a heartbroken and bitter gent who lives in the desert - the film was shot on the dunes of western China - and hires assassins for those in need. Surprisingly, there's a big demand.
Set in the far-off long-ago and divided into chapters corresponding to the five seasons of the Chinese almanac, Ashes features the comings and goings of an interrelated troupe: including an expert swordsman fast losing his sight; a jilted lover looking for revenge; a guilt-plagued brother; a beautiful peasant girl; and a rueful ex-lover.
Shot by Wong's longtime cinematographer, Christopher Doyle, Ashes is dreamy and splendid and definitely deserves to be seen on the big screen. Among the many plusses of this fun, beautiful fable is the score's loping cello theme, from Yo-Yo Ma.
- Steven Rea