Mandarin Movie: Ashes of Time Redux

Posted by Charlie @ Discovering Mandarin Friday, 4 September 2009
Ashes of Time Redux [1994 / 2008]

'Ashes of Time Redux' is a good film, dreamlike, disjointed, and possessed a stunningly complex narrative poetry. Often hard to follow and the colouring of the desert scenes is at times rather overexposed and abstract. Though the front cover quite clearly has a swords man this film is more about self-meditation and thoughts of the protagonist than out and out action.

The action scenes that are included are blurry and snarly, not cut together particularly well. However, the purpose of these scenes is to illustrate the tale, and provides this purpose well. The early storyline(s) are tough to follow, but are explained as you go. It had me and my housemate staring at each other in confusion early on.

Ashes of Time Redux (東邪西毒:終極版 : literally meaning "The Heretic East and the Venomous West": The Ultimate Edition) is set in five parts, five seasons that are part of the Chinese almanac. The story takes place in the jianghu, the world of the martial arts. Ouyang Feng the main character is a hard man to figure out, and at the end still leaves you pondering whether he is wise, or an idiot.

Ashes of Time Redux is inspired by characters from Louis Cha’s martial arts novel ‘The Eagle-Shooting Heroes’. It centers on a man named Ouyang Feng. He left his home in White Camel Mountain when the woman he loved chose to marry his elder brother rather than him. Instead of seeking glory, he ends up as an agent hiring skilled swordsmen to carry out contract killings. His wounded heart has made him pitiless and cynical, but his encounters with friends, clients and future enemies make him conscious of his solitude...
The novels the film is based around actually have the lords of the east and west as much older men and arch nemeses. I would be very interested to read the books at a later date. All in all a good film; if you have the patience to navigate the honestly, mind boggling first half, of a somewhat abstract poetic film.

Ashes of Time Redux [1994 / 2008]
Wong Kar-Wai: Director
Leslie Cheung, Brigitte Lin, Maggie Cheung, Tony Leung Chiu Wai, Tony Leung Kar Fai

Mandarin w/English Subtitles

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  1. Anonymous Says:
  2. Wong Kar Wai has made quite a number of famous and good movies, although his films mostly emphasize visual art and shots rather than storyline, so sometimes a bit boring to watch.

    My favourite of his works are definitely Chungking Express. In The Mood of Love is nice too, but they are films talking about Hong Kong, so are in Cantonese.


  3. Hey Wanchi,

    Thanks for your comment, I will be looking into those films, but obviously my main motivation is the language (not so much the kung fu).

    I am interested in the differences between Mandarin and Cantonese, but not so much as to start confusing myself.


  4. Anonymous Says:
  5. Louis Cha is probably the most popular modern Chinese novelist. His novels are almost all about martial arts and famous for the impressive characters he has created.

    Most of the people I know have read his books and love them but don't know why I am never a fan of him, I guess its because he's a bit over-popular that there have been millions of films and TV dramas made for the stories. So if you are interested in his works it should be quite easy to look for.



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