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4.1 out of 5 stars
4.1 out of 5 stars
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on 1 May 2017
Riveting and sumptuous, great story, great cast and superb photography (Doyle) from the Asian Master, Wong Kar Wai
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VINE VOICEon 2 June 2010
Hard to watch but compelling enough to see through to the end. Difficult to follow but I did, and enjoyed it for its complications. Intertwined, enigmatic, with many meanings... I think. Worth renting, or buying at a bargain price.
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VINE VOICEon 10 July 2009
This movie is very strange indeed. In fact I would describe it as enigmatic if I could spell the word, for that is precisely what it is, especially in this, the director's final authorised cut. A warrior living on the edge of a desert, a camel, a basket of eggs, a strange and beautiful woman who wants someone killed, and a bloke played by Tony Leung who won't die. These apparently disparate elements are woven into an epic film whose meaning becomes less and less clear as the story progresses.

Set against these difficulties however are (1) the extraordinary and beautiful cinematography of the incomparable Christopher Doyle and (2) the extended soliloquy on the transience of human life by Maggie Cheung in the movie's second half. These elements alone make the film unmissable. Wong Kar-Wai is a filmmaker of genius and anything by him is worth seeing. Here he is being (deliberately?) obscure but the film is good even given its difficulties.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 4 February 2013
Initially released in the same year (1994) as Wong's masterpiece Chungking Express, Ashes Of Time (or, in its slightly shorter, 2008 re-edited and re-scored version, Ashes Of Time Redux), on the surface at least, could hardly be a more different cinematic proposition. Gone are the claustrophobic urban interiors and pop music soundtrack, to be replaced by a 'Samurai' tale set in the ancient Chinese desert, all to a Morricone-esque soundtrack. Closer inspection does, however, reveal in Ashes Of Time many of Wong's recurring thematic obsessions of memory, identity, dreams and lost love, with (perhaps in keeping with a Leone/Kurosawa tradition) a good measure of betrayal and vengeance thrown in.

Ashes Of Time also presents Wong at his most elliptical, narrative-wise. At (or close to) the centre of the film is Leslie Cheung's 'middleman' Ouyang Feng, an apparently unscrupulous hirer of passing master swordsmen to anyone seeking vengeance, whether it be against gangs of marauding bandits or simply a traitorous lover or spouse. Wong's parable-like narrative is rendered all the more enigmatic by his trademark sharp cutting and editing style, his (at times) only partially explained character motivations and (to cap it all) by his use of the androgynous-looking Bridget Lin playing the brother/sister pairing, Murong Yang/Murong Yin, the sister having been previously spurned by visiting swordsman Huang Yaoshi (Tony Leung Ka-fai).

Stylistically, Wong's film is (as is his wont) stunning to look at. Cinematographer Christopher Doyle's use of saturated colours is even more exaggerated here than in pretty much anything Doyle has done for Wong up to the director's 2046, with memorable desert shots (including an amazing sequence of a gang of bandits on horseback emerging towards the camera over a yellow desert horizon) and exquisite peach blossoms. Similarly, Doyle has captured some spectacularly shot and edited sword fight scenes (including some special and slow-motion effects), which could (I guess) have been part-inspiration for the spate of such martial arts films in the late 1990s/2000s.

However, for me, as with all Wong films, it is not (principally) the visual impact of Ashes Of Time that leaves the most lasting impression, but the way Wong portrays his characters emoting. Whilst this is less pronounced here than in his masterpieces Chungking Express and In The Mood For Love, both Leung and Lin are very good in some of the early sequences, whilst Maggie Cheung is (again) exquisite as Feng's long lost love (and now sister-in-law).

Not absolutely top-notch Wong, therefore, but well worth seeing and a film whose impact grows with each repeat viewing.
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on 14 February 2011
For all of those wondering, this UK exclusive blu-ray release is REGION FREE, NOT region 2(b) locked as stated in the item specifications. Other then that, this movie is great and the blu-ray transfer is pretty good.
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on 14 June 2009
There are certain movies that simply defy genre conventions, films such as Walkabout, or 2001 a Space Odyssey, films which even defy explanation. Ashes of Time is just such a film.
The film takes place on the edge of a vast desert, where assassin Ou-yang Feng (Leslie Chueng) has come to seek solace and solitude from the mistakes of his past. Whilst here, he is visited by a variety of characters, the presence of each of them making him reflect on various aspects of his past, and the weight of the love he lost. This probably does not sound like much of a plot to those cine-files raised on a steady diet of Hero, House of Flying Daggers and Curse of the Golden Flower (and before anyone gets angry, I am not saying there is anything wrong with those aforementioned films, except maybe Curse of the Golden Flower), but Ashes of Time is a much deeper and satisfying movie experience than any of the above.
Taking his time with character development, director Wong Kar Wai has crafted a beautiful and intimate film, the sort of mesmerising experience that happens all too rarely in cinema. Dealing with love, loss and regret, the slightly fractured nature of the film can seem confusing at first, but each character is essential to the feel of the film, and each character leads Ou-yang Feng to his final revelation.
And what superb characters they are. Aside from Leslie Cheung in the title role, we have Tong Leung Ka Fai as Huang Yao-shi, Fangs friend and confidante who has much in his past to regret, a superb and more than a little disturbing Brigitte Lin as the highly conflicted Murong Yin and Murong Yang (no clues in the names then?), Jacky Cheung as Hung Chi, a wandering swordsman whom Feng takes under his wing and trains to be like him but who ultimately can only be himself, and Maggie Cheung as the unnamed woman who is the love of Fengs life and the source of his sadness, to name but a few of the stellar cast on show.
Visually, the film is never less than breathtaking to look at, shot through with a golden hue that gives the film an almost otherworldly quality. Filled with lingering wide shots and paced with an aching attention to detail, even the few action sequences are done in such a way as to make them almost dreamlike in their feel. Painstaking and beautiful in its examination of its central themes, this is truly a film to be cherished.
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on 19 April 2010
I remembered watching this movie in cinema 16 years ago. I have VHS, VCD & the movie making magazine with Wong Kar Wai signature. Ashes of time is and always will be one of my favorite movie. The blue ray picture quality is fine, but the print has gone through very heavy modification whereby it is really dif with what I original saw in cinema. I somehow enjoyed the audio very much, the new soundtrack managed to sustain the original heavy mood with new life & more sentimental. This is the only version of Ashes of Time that will available in blu ray & it satisfied me.
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on 30 June 2007
to chavo or should i say chav. you are a freakin idiot, you have no idea about wong kai wai. His films are character studies and you my friend are not sophisticated enough to understand the intricacies of one of the greatest directors to come out of hong kong.
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on 18 May 2015
interesting movie, looks beautiful, fairly enigmatic, if you like this directors films you will like this. I've watched it a couple of times to try and figure out exactly whats going on and how all the characters are interlinked. The bluray conversion is a bit dodgy in some areas - just really grainy - understand this is due to damaged film which was recovered from leaky warehouse. The extras are ok, pretty straightforward stuff really. Definitely will watch again. Having said all that it isn't a film that really pulls you in, it perhaps requires patience, hence only 4 stars.
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on 18 June 2012
1) You are an assassin (of sorts).
2) You have been hired to take multiple contracts.
3) They involve killing each party who hired you.
4) One of whom, loves you.
5) One who wants his sister for himself.
6) She wants you/your best friend.
7) He is one of those you've been hired to kill.
8) So is she.
9) And her brother.
10) There's a camel.
11) And, a very interesting bottle of wine.
A very strange, but interesting film on who we are and, what, given the circumstances, motivates us.
(I want that bottle of wine!!!!).
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