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Ashes of Time (1994)
"Dung che sai duk" (original title)

R  |   |  Action, Drama  |  17 September 1994 (Hong Kong)
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Ratings: 7.2/10 from 9,537 users   Metascore: 69/100
Reviews: 43 user | 121 critic | 20 from

A broken-hearted hit man moves to the desert where he finds skilled swordsmen to carry out his contract killings.



(novel), (screenplay)
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Complete credited cast:
Li Bai ...
Peach Blossom
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Joey Wang ...
(scenes deleted)


Ou-yang Feng lives in the middle of a desert, where he acts as a middle man to various swordsmen in ancient China. One of those swordsmen is Huang Yao-shi, who has found some magic wine that causes one to forget the past. At another time, Huang met Mu-rong Yin and under the influence of drink, promised to marry Mu-rong's sister Mu-rong Yang. Huang jilts her, and Mu-rong Yin hires Ou-yang to kill Huang. But then Mu-rong Yang hires Ou-yang to protect Huang. This is awkward, because Mu-rong Yang and Mu-rong Yin are in reality the same person. Other unrelated plot lines careen about. Among them is Ou-yang's continuing efforts to destroy a band of horse thieves. Oy-yang recruits another swordsman, a man who is going blind and wants to get home to see his wife before his sight goes completely. The swordsman is killed. Ou-yang then meets another swordsman who doesn't like wearing shoes. Oy-yang sends this man after the horse thieves, with better results. We then find out what a man must give... Written by Scott Hamilton <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Action | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for some violence | See all certifications »

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Official Sites:

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Release Date:

17 September 1994 (Hong Kong)  »

Also Known As:

Ashes of Time  »

Filming Locations:

Box Office


HKD 40,000,000 (estimated)


SGD 368,000 (Singapore)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (Redux)

Sound Mix:

(Redux version)|


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


This film had an exhausting effect on Kar Wai Wong. While on hiatus during the editing process he wrote and shot Chungking Express (1994) (Chungking Express) to "clear his head". See more »


Ou-yang Feng: The harder you try to forget something, the more it will stick in your memory. Once I heard someone say that if you have to lose something, the best way to keep it in your memory.
See more »


Follows The Eagle Shooting Heroes (1993) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

All Along the Watchtower
19 July 2005 | by (Virginia Beach) – See all my reviews

Kar-Wai is one of the three best directors working today. Many feel this is his best work. Surely it is the greatest leap since his previous, but I find the Mood-2046 pair more important, even lifealtering.

If you come into this expecting a story that unfolds in good order and makes sense, you will be disappointed. The overlapping of layers, the folding of narrative, the merging of images is what we're in for.

There are two famous stories about this. The first is that at some point he quit work, then quickly went off to make "Chunking Express," during which he "found himself" ...

The other story has to do with "Pulp Fiction." Tarantino is a huge borrower of ideas. Having already written a couple "raw" movies that people admire, he stumbled upon Kar-Wai in the midst of making this — a long affair. All the clever bits in the structure of "Pulp" are from this, just as surely as all the clever bits in "Star Wars" are from Kurosawa.

What are those bits? Multiple persons in one body. Multiple bodies for one person. Circular storytelling where any part is the beginning. Nested narrative where one story tells another. Characters that imagine and forget each other, bringing them into our world and out.

Death, love, yearning, accident, encounter.

All of this at the beginning of a luscious partnership between Kar-Wai and Christopher Doyle. They are today what Greenaway and Sacha Vierny were: dangerous adventures in cinematic imagination coupled with mastery of cinematic expression.

This takes a few too many chances and you can see precisely where Kar-Wai abandoned it to search for sense. (He always shoots in order of what you see.) But if you are ready for the transcendental thrills of his later work, you might want to start here.

Ted's Evaluation -- 3 of 3: Worth watching.

25 of 38 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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