Maggie Cheung steels herself for Ashes Of Time Redux.
ASHES OF TIME REDUX (Wong Kar Wai). 93 minutes. Subtitled. Opens Friday (October 31). For venues and times, see Movies. Rating: NNNN
The "Redux" in the title seems to promise a reconsideration of sorts, but don't get your hopes up. Ashes Of Time Redux is just a souped-up reissue of Wong's postmodern 1994 take on the Chinese wuxia genre.
Starring Leslie Cheung as a once-great assassin now living a simpler life as an outsourcer of hits to younger, hungrier killers, it's packed full of flying swordsmen (and swordswomen), lost loves, amnesia potions and whatnot, interspersed with digressions both philosophical and melancholic.
The movie's a who's who of mid-90s Asian action talent, with appearances from Maggie Cheung, Jacky Cheung, The Bride With White Hair's Brigitte Lin and both Tony Leungs.
It doesn't exactly satisfy as an action film, though. Wong's more interested in picking the genre apart to see what makes it tick than he is in the actual ticking.
Due to various distribution quirks - and the rather enthusiastic nature of Hong Kong film pirates - a number of alternate versions of the film have been released; this is supposed to be Wong's "definitive version." It's two minutes shorter than the official Hong Kong DVD. I think he's tightened up a couple of action sequences, but I didn't notice any striking alterations.
Advances in digital mastering technology mean that the film is now brighter (and louder) than ever before. If you've only seen it projected in a scratchy old 35 mm print, this revamped version is an eye-opener, with a brilliant colour palette and an aggressive new sound design.