Wong Kar Wai brings a stream-of-consciousness to his ambitious 1994 film that has thematic resonance, but sometimes distances the onlooker to what is often a very evocative and visceral look at ancient China.
In Ashes of Time Redux Leslie Cheung's Feng toils on a dusty landscape still forlorn that a lovely woman (Maggie Cheung) ended up with his brother than him.
Feng operates in a strange underworld of sorts to retain those out to enact vengeance; Leung Ka Fai is affable as his pal Huang who spends time during the spring with him.
There is an impressionistic feel to the filmmaking as Feng hears about a barefoot pugilist (Jacky Cheung) and a blind fencer (Leung Chiu Wai), as well as duelist of a sister (Brigitte Lin). Within the fragmented segueways, there are three women, as played by Charlie Yeung, Carina Lau, and Bai Li, who have touched the other fighters in some way or another.
The helmer's original vision now comes across with naturalistic, provocative passion as the minds of the characters allow for their personal flaws to be realized with some manic, surging realism. He works vibrantly with his crew, especially lenser Christopher Doyle (Hero) whose exquisite rendering of the elements accentuates the costume and hair-stylist's efforts, even with some sharp camera angles and slow-motion effects.
The actors embrace what often feels like a dreamy, if violent Western, as most of the characters waver between joy and sadness with the changing seasons that help give it structure. Even if Ashes of Time Redux doesn't execute the overrall potency of all of its images for an emotional payoff like Mongol did, it does often catch into human frailties in spectacular ways.