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Ashes of Time (1994)

tomatometer

80

Average Rating: 6.9/10
Reviews Counted: 79
Fresh: 63 | Rotten: 16

Wong Kar Wai's redux, with a few slight changes from his 1994 classic, is a feast for the eyes, if a little difficult to follow.

77

Average Rating: 6.7/10
Critic Reviews: 22
Fresh: 17 | Rotten: 5

Wong Kar Wai's redux, with a few slight changes from his 1994 classic, is a feast for the eyes, if a little difficult to follow.

audience

76

liked it
Average Rating: 3.7/5
User Ratings: 14,806

My Rating

Movie Info

Master Hong Kong filmmaker Wong Kar-wai directed this lyrical, dream-like martial arts epic. A famously troubled shoot, the film took two years and 40 million dollars to produce (a shocking sum for a national cinema populated with low-budget quickies) and features a virtual who's-who of the Hong Kong film world. Conceived as a prequel to the popular martial arts novel The Eagle-Shooting Hero by Jin Yong, the movie is less a straightforward action thriller than a visually striking meditation on

R,

Art House & International, Action & Adventure

Kar-Wai Wong

May 15, 2000

Sony Pictures Classics - Official Site External Icon

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All Critics (87) | Top Critics (27) | Fresh (63) | Rotten (16) | DVD (7)

Wong Kar Wai seems considerably more out of his depth than other Chinese filmmakers who have slummed in the martial arts genre. This can't compare to Chen Kaige's The Emperor and the Assassin or Yimou Zhang's House of Flying Daggers.

May 13, 2009 Full Review Source: Orlando Sentinel
Orlando Sentinel
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One feels the passionate intensity of the filmmaker in every strand of his luminously intricate narrative.

April 1, 2009 Full Review Source: New York Observer
New York Observer
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For this director's cut, Wong has trimmed several minutes and reorganized the narrative according to the passage of seasons, though the plot is still impenetrable.

November 14, 2008 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
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Martial-arts fans may find themselves disappointed, but Wong Kar-wai addicts will be delighted.

October 31, 2008 Full Review Source: Globe and Mail | Comment (1)
Globe and Mail
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Wong's reworking hasn't made Ashes more coherent, but it's still a gorgeous enigma.

October 30, 2008 Full Review Source: Newsday
Newsday
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The reworked version is a visual feast, even if the human dimension seems somewhat shortchanged.

October 24, 2008 Full Review Source: Seattle Times
Seattle Times
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Each of the storylines wash over one another, refusing to take on a fully-fledged shape and yet they have a surprisingly cohesive cumulative effect.

July 6, 2010 Full Review Source: Eye for Film
Eye for Film

It's hard to recommend a film as frustratingly inaccessible as this one, but if you go into the theater expecting a trip to an art gallery, you might be pleasantly surprised.

August 30, 2009 Full Review Source: Washington Times
Washington Times

Redux clocks in at a slightly shorter running time than any of the previous versions Wong has offered. The tighter edit is a better fit, but ultimately, it's not enough.

March 12, 2009 Full Review Source: Orlando Weekly
Orlando Weekly

The film's imagery is its most striking asset, creating an impressionistic sense of both vastness and intimacy that frequently overwhelms the characters and their problems.

March 12, 2009 Full Review Source: Q Network Film Desk
Q Network Film Desk

Wong Kar Wai could make even a compost heap look as gorgeous as a Vermeer.

December 12, 2008 Full Review Source: St. Paul Pioneer Press
St. Paul Pioneer Press

I know Kar Wai's got a fanbase, but to me he's equivalent to a recent film school graduate using all of the post-production tricks that he's learned, either to show off what he's learned or to cover up his lack of talent.

December 12, 2008 Full Review Source: Sin Magazine
Sin Magazine

Wong's film is to be appreciated as poetry on film, an aphorism-filled ode to lovestruck dreamers, and for its beautifully rendered images.

December 12, 2008 Full Review Source: Tulsa World
Tulsa World

The motion picture as mood ring.

November 26, 2008 Full Review Source: Creative Loafing
Creative Loafing

Maybe something gets lost in the translation, as often happens, but Wong may be giving us the first Eastern.

November 21, 2008

Unfathomably gorgeous; perhaps even the most gorgeous film Wong Kar-Wai has yet made, which is not a bit of praise I hand out lightly.

November 20, 2008 Full Review Source: Antagony & Ecstasy
Antagony & Ecstasy

Beautiful to look at, with painterly compositions, gorgeous, emotionally charged close-ups and slick, elegant transitions. It's all for naught because the story seems no more coherent than the flourishes of a kaleidoscope.

November 20, 2008 Full Review Source: Arizona Daily Star
Arizona Daily Star

In the end, it's not unlike a Jackson Pollock painting. No matter how close or how far away you stand from it, some people just get it and some people don't.

November 14, 2008
Kansas City Star

Even drastically altered as it has been in Ashes of Time Redux, the strengths and weaknesses of the film are the same.

November 14, 2008 Full Review Source: Movie Retriever
Movie Retriever

The film remains an acquired taste at best.

November 13, 2008 Full Review Source: Deseret News, Salt Lake City
Deseret News, Salt Lake City

... magnificent on a purely sensual level ... The new version is shorter by about ten minutes and is divided by chapter headings, which make the film slightly less confusing.

November 12, 2008

One man's befuddlement is another's awe at the ineffability of time, and from either perspective, this is a spectacle not soon forgotten, even if never understood.

November 7, 2008 Full Review Source: Oregonian
Oregonian

Would we have wanted Picasso to go to the Prado with a brush and some tubes of paint to 'fix' portions of 'Guernica' that he no longer liked?

November 7, 2008 Full Review Source: Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)
Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)

This is a film for followers of Wong Kar Wai and for fans of nostalgia.

October 31, 2008 Full Review Source: Jam! Movies
Jam! Movies

Audience Reviews for Ashes of Time

Amateur dramatics with beautiful cinematography. It's a bizarre follow up to the brilliant Chungking Express. Kar Wai Wong's style is unique and is put to good use here but the script lacks the punch it needs (and I'm not just saying that because of the awful English translated subtitles). It's confusing and distracting, make me wonder why he didn't just make a silent film, it would have been more enjoyable.
February 12, 2013
SirPant

Super Reviewer

certainly one of the most beautiful films i have ever seen. but honestly, what the hell just happened? would kill to see this projected though
April 6, 2012
rubystevens
Stella Dallas

Super Reviewer

No doubt a well made film and with great cinematography. However it was a little confusing at times to follow the story and who were friends and who were enemies. The big disappointment for me was I had expected something along the lines of Hero or House of flying daggers. Unfortunately this is a different type of film altogether and barely has any fight scenes, and when there are they are a blur. Definitely more of a drama than a martial arts film.
April 3, 2012
Deano78

Super Reviewer

Oh yes! Finally saw it. I don't believe that I saw the original unless it was at the Film Festival many years ago but I like it...Wong Kar Wai doing the traditional Chinese epic story...and doing it in a very unique manner. Not a lot of effects for the ideas but plenty of character.
April 3, 2012
John Ballantine

Super Reviewer

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Latest News on Ashes of Time

October 13, 2008:
Wong Kar-wai Talks Ashes of Time Redux
Wong Kar-wai has just debuted the "definitive" version of his 1994 film "Ashes of Time," and to...
October 9, 2008:
Critics Consensus: Express Scores, Body of Lies Falls Flat
This week at the movies, we've got suspicious spies (Body of Lies, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and...
October 6, 2008:
Wong Kar-wai Finishes Sifting through Ashes of Time
A troubling discovery at a film lab ten years ago spurred director Wong Kar-wai to begin a...

Foreign Titles

  • Ashes of Time Redux (DE)
  • Ashes of Time Redux (UK)
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