Ashes of Time

100 minutes 2013

This is my kind of kung fu film—written and directed by the most original stylist of the Hong Kong new wave, Wong Kar-wai (In the Mood for Love), with action so fleetly and oddly edited you may not be sure what you've seen. Even when it slows down, this strange adaptation of Jin Yong's martial-arts novel The Eagle Shooting Heroes is still a riot of fancy moves and obscure intrigues, spurred on by Wong's usual ruminations about memory and the past and shot with incandescent brilliance by Christopher Doyle, probably the best cinematographer of the Hong Kong new wave. Basically a western, with swords replacing guns and a camel or two thrown in to supplement the horses, this 1994 feature is mannerist genre filmmaking at its most delirious and mystical, suggesting at times a weird cross between Sergio Leone and Josef von Sternberg. With Leslie Cheung, Tony Leung, Brigitte Lin, and Maggie Cheung. In Cantonese with subtitles.

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