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Ashes of Time (Redux)


abcdefg
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Wow! What an unusual ride! I caught this on Amazon Prime a couple days ago. Chinese title: 东邪西毒

 

It's a 2008 remake of the original 1994 wuxia 武侠 film by Hong Kong director Wong Kar-wai  王家卫。Has to do with sword fighting, love, loyalty, memory, passage of time, and so on. Deep stuff. Visually stunning with great acting and a nearly incomprehensible plot. I finally had to stop trying to watch it with a western analytic mind. Just let go and enjoy the colors and images. Beautiful musical score. 

 

Must say I found the language difficult, not really sure why. Pretty sure it was Mandarin, but it often had the rhythm of Cantonese speech. Subtitles were well done and easy to read. The version I watched had English subs. 

 

Here's a decent review from a top critic: https://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/ashes-of-time-redux-2008 

 

Worth the experience. Give it a try. You'll either love it or hate it. Kind of "art house wuxia." Best not to expect the usual martial arts flick pacing. It was 40 minutes along before the first major sword fight. I have to be in the right frame of mind to appreciate movies like this. 

 

YouTube has a six-minute clip of one of Maggie Cheung's best scenes towards the end of the film: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3SrZQGeqBg4. (I think this YouTube clip is Cantonese.) 

 

image_2021-07-01_202223.thumb.png.1fb1e072888e7bea8e3a9ca202d4fe61.png

 

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I saw and loved the original. Watched it several times. Bit nervous to watch it again after all those years in case I now think it's rubbish

 

5 hours ago, abcdefg said:

It's a 2008 remake of the original 1994 wuxia 武侠 film

 

To clarify, it's not what I'd normally think of as a "remake", it's just a slightly re-edited version of the original.

 

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On 7/2/2021 at 1:48 AM, realmayo said:

To clarify, it's not what I'd normally think of as a "remake", it's just a slightly re-edited version of the original.

 

Agree. It has been ages since I saw the first one. Cannot really compare them. But I read the director was unhappy with it and toyed with the idea of "fixing it up" off and on throughout the intervening 14 years. Along the way he found the project too intense, had to lay it aside, and tossed off two other films, one a comedy and one the classic "Chunking Express." 

 

About the language. I re-listened to long passages this morning, skipping around, and I'm pretty sure I was mistaken in my first notes, above. They seem to be speaking Cantonese, but lots of it is rapid and slurred. 

 

Also, I found a YouTube clip of the fight scene in which the Blind Swordsman is finally defeated. Pretty intense; 8 or 9 minutes. Feels a lot like a "Spaghetti Western." 

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eWjzHqYNVVw

 

1857793968_blindswordsman890.thumb.PNG.2cedb80d507a4987d7bd4e1a8b99a9c7.PNG

 

 

 

 

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Haha! Yes, it was purely for enjoyment, not for study. Just stumbled across it on Amazon Prime. Recognized the director and several of the actors. Looked it up and realized it was a classic. Many years since I saw the first iteration. 

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On 7/2/2021 at 3:07 AM, abcdefg said:

a nearly incomprehensible plot

It is pretty much Wong Karwai's style - I watched most of his movies twice, but can't really recall a coherent plot in any of them. Even after many years, I can recall the mood / atmosphere and the feelings his works caused in me quite well.

I watched both versions of AoT, and I still prefer the original over the redux - though none of the versions make much sense in terms of the story. It is interesting to see how original AoT captured the vibe of the early 90s WKW movies, and 14 years later the edited "same" movie can fit well with the tone of his later works (In the Mood for Love, for example).

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47 minutes ago, ZhangKaiRong said:

but can't really recall a coherent plot in any of them.

 

I might be misunderstanding what coherent really means, but to my understanding of the word it fits most of his films. There is a plot the viewer should be able to get, although not always on first viewing. A lot of art-house directors work with nonlinear narration and/or sometimes ellipsis, Hou Hsiao-hsien is perhaps the most celebrated contemporary one. But the plot is, as you say, certainly not what you're supposed to prioritize from most of these films.

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A film like this doesn't suffer from lack of an easily-discernable plot, in my opinion. When watching it, I get completely immersed in the characters. The viewing experience becomes less about *what* happens, and more about how the characters change and interact as they move through different circumstances and situations. 

 

Plus, he (the director) packs in so much sheer visual beauty. He works every shadow for all it is worth and is careful with framing and camera angles. Makes the film a visual triumph. 

 

2 hours ago, Insectosaurus said:

A lot of art-house directors work with nonlinear narration and/or sometimes ellipsis...

 

Yes, very well said. I realize that's what Wong Kar-wai is doing here, and it's completely OK with me.   

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