ASHES OF TIME REDUX
Boring and Somewhat Pretentious
Release Date: October 10, 2008
Starring: Leslie Cheung, Brigitte Lin.
Tony Leung Chie Wai, Tony
Leung Ka Fai, Carina Lau, and
Genre: Martial Arts Drama
Audience: Older teenagers and adults
Runtime: 93 minutes
Distributor: Sony Pictures Classics
Director: Wong Kar Wai
Executive Producer: Tsai Mu Ho and Chan Ye Cheng
Producer: Wong Kar Wai, Jeff Lau, Jacky
Pang, and Yee Wah
Writer: Wong Kar Wai
Address Comments To:Michael Barker, Tom Bernard and Marcia Bloom
Sony Pictures Classics
(Sony Pictures Entertainment)
550 Madison Avenue, 8th Floor
New York, NY 10022
Phone: (212) 833-8833
Fax: (212) 833-8844
Web Page: www.sonyclassics.com
Reflecting on five books by popular martial arts novelist Louis Cha, the movie imagines what happened before the Malignant Lord of the East and his friend, the Malicious Lord of the West, in those novels became legendary heroes. The story focuses mostly on Dongshe, the eventual Lord of the East, who has left his hometown and set up a house in the desert. Many people come to him as a go-between, to hire skilled swordsmen as warrior assassins. As friends and enemies come and go, he thinks about what led him to this solitary place. Viewers learn that he left his hometown because his brother married the love of his life.
ASHES OF TIME REDUX is basically a reflection movie full of narrated thoughts by Dongshe and sometimes other characters. Dongshe often narrates the stories of other people he knows. When action does occur, it is shot in an impressionistic manner, with little thought to building any excitement or suspense whatsoever. The result is an episodic, fragmented, boring mess. Thus, most moviegoers probably will be bored to tears, or to a deep sleep. This may enthrall emotional liberals who cry at the drop of a Barack Obama metaphor, or to desperate insomniacs in need of urgent rest. Also, the movie has a fatalistic Buddhist attitude that is depressing and less than inspiring, to say the least. This will not enthrall media-wise non-Buddhists who know how empty most Buddhist philosophy can be. In fact, the movie’s fatalistic aphorisms are fairly pretentious, though there is a recognition of the sinful turmoil in the human heart.
Louis Cha, by the way, is a Buddhist scholar, so his novels contains plenty of Buddhist and Taoist philosophy, from what the MOVIEGUIDE® Biblical Guide to Movies and Entertainment understands through its research. Also, however, his later novels reportedly have an anti-Marxist attitude celebrating individual freedom. Cha is a retired newspaper owner who hasn’t written a novel since 1972 when he left his career as a novelist to be a journalist and start a newspaper in Hong Kong.
ASHES OF TIME REDUX is not much of an action movie. When action occurs, it is shot with little thought to building any excitement or suspense. Most moviegoers probably will be bored to tears. The movie also has a Buddhist, fatalistic worldview, reflecting the emptiness of Buddhist philosophy. In fact, the movie’s fatalistic aphorisms are fairly pretentious, though it does recognize the sinful turmoil in the human heart.