Ashes of Time

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Ashes of Time
Ashes2.jpg
Film poster
Traditional 東邪西毒
Simplified 东邪西毒
Mandarin Dōng Xié Xī Dú
Cantonese Dung1 Ce4 Sai1 Duk6
Directed by Wong Kar-wai
Produced by Wong Kar-wai
Jeffrey Lau
Jacky Pang
Screenplay by Wong Kar-wai
Story by Louis Cha
Starring Leslie Cheung
Tony Leung Ka-fai
Brigitte Lin
Tony Leung Chiu-Wai
Carina Lau
Charlie Yeung
Jacky Cheung
Maggie Cheung
Music by Frankie Chan
Cinematography Christopher Doyle
Edited by William Chang
Patrick Tam
Distributed by HKFM
Release date(s)
  • 17 September 1994 (1994-09-17)
Running time 100 minutes
Country Hong Kong
Language Cantonese
Budget HK$40,000,000 (estimated)
Box office HK$9,023,583 (HK)
US$1,912,490 (Redux)[1]

Ashes of Time (Chinese: 東邪西毒 Dōng xié xi dú) is a 1994 Hong Kong film written and directed by Wong Kar-wai, and loosely based on four characters from Jin Yong's novel The Legend of the Condor Heroes.

Wong completely eschews any plot adaptation from the novel, using only the names to create his own vision of an arguably unrelated film. During the film's long-delayed production, Wong produced a parody of the same novel with the same cast titled The Eagle Shooting Heroes.

Although it received limited box office success, the parallels Ashes of Time drew between modern ideas of dystopia imposed on a wuxia film has led many critics to cite it as one of Wong Kar-wai's most under-appreciated works.

In 2008, Wong re-edited and re-released the film under the title Ashes of Time Redux that presents a shorter cut. The redux version is at the moment the only good-quality edition available on the market (theatres and home video).

Cast[edit]

Plot[edit]

In this film, set in ancient times in China, Leslie Cheung plays an agent, Ouyang Feng, hiring famous bounty hunters. His character is portrayed as a fallen swordsman driven by greed and heartless to both friend and foe. He was perpetually being spiteful of love as his own love history was not nearly so beautiful. His bounty-hunters came and went as was narrated by Ouyang Feng himself as based on the Tung Shu predictions.

In essence, he was a loner with little love, but the bounty hunters that worked for Ouyang Feng, like Blind Swordsman and another of his best fighters, Hong Qigong, discovered the intangible secret of true love while Ouyang retained his attitude towards his fighters and the precious lessons that they have taught. However, the thread that runs through the entire narrative has clearly the spirit of refusal in the sense that one should reject another before he gets to be rejected in the future. To illustrate, nearly every character in this story has resorted to being selfish and malignant in order to prevent being rejected by others, be it in love or in comradeship as their individual hardships have moulded their attitude turning them into heartless and cold individuals in order to survive in the uncompromising desert where the story is set.

It has many moral implications but is less evident since the main character is Ouyang himself and most of the narration would unquestionably be centred on him.

Soundtrack[edit]

The music was composed by Frankie Chan and Roel A. García, and produced by Rock Records in Hong Kong and Taiwan. It was released in 1994.

Reception[edit]

Critical[edit]

When the film opened in Hong Kong it received mixed reviews. Critics found it so elliptical that it was almost impossible to make out any semblance of a plot, something very rare in a wuxia film.

In The New York Times, Lawrence Van Gelder also gave Ashes of Time a mixed review:[2]

For those who seek metaphors, Ashes of Time... presents the eye as well as the illusions of vision. One character is nearly blind. Another, a swordsman, goes blind in the middle of a horrendous battle. Two characters, Yin and Yang—one presented as a man, the other as his sister—are identical. And there is a brief appearance by a legendary sword fighter who hones his skills against his own reflection.

For those who seek battle, Ashes of Time offers intermittent blurs of action, streaks of flying figures, flashing steel, and rare spatters and gouts of moist crimson, all washing across the screen like hurried brush paintings.

Like the attainment of wisdom, Ashes of Time requires a long journey through testing terrain.

Note that this review contains a number of errors as regards the plot of the movie.

Awards and nominations[edit]

Box office[edit]

Ashes of Time grossed HK$9,023,583 during its Hong Kong run.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Ashes of Time Redux. Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2011-07-22
  2. ^ Lawrence van Gelder, "Film Review: Pain of an Aging Warrior", The New York Times, 17 May 1996

External links[edit]