(Dung che sai duk redux, 1994-2008) Fevered eye candy of an extraordinary order, Wong Kar-Wai’s fourth feature, “Ashes of Time: Redux,” trims the 1994 version of his martial-arts collaboration with cinematographer Chris Doyle and patches together fragmented elements from multiple versions of a film that was almost lost. Wong’s 1994 “Chungking Express” was a toss-off made after the protracted battles to complete “Ashes,” and its fierce, bright energy and wit contrasts strongly with the incomprehensible doings here. Mood reigns, especially with the digital-intermediate impositions of grain and color atop an already delirious movie. The narration, in the form of stories told by an innkeeper about the life of swordsmen and the women who elude them, is dutiful. Unlike 2007’s “Blueberry Nights,” there’s little sentimentality to make an audience wince, but much to make the eyes water. Unrequited love is the force behind the film’s sorrow and battles. But look is what matters. Improbably distended shadows, stark faces, mirror-like lakes, invented colors for skies of blue and green and celadon. There are many, many moments of pure cinema. Yo Yo Ma’s cello solos are an addition as well. With Leslie Cheung, Jacky Cheung, Tony Leung Chiu Wai, Tony Leung Ka Fai, Brigitte Lin, Maggie Cheung. Based, distantly, on Louis Cha’s 1957 wuxia martial arts novel, “The Legend of the Condor Heroes.” 93m. (Ray Pride)
Ray Pride is Newcity’s film critic and a contributing editor to Filmmaker magazine.
His history of Chicago “Ghost Signs” in words and images will be published in Spring 2022.