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

7.2
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Ratings: 7.2/10 from 8,237 users   Metascore: 69/100
Reviews: 42 user | 119 critic | 20 from Metacritic.com

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

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(novel), (screenplay)
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Title: Ashes of Time (1994)

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Brigitte Lin ...
Leslie Cheung ...
...
...
Jacky Cheung ...
...
Li Bai ...
...
Peach Blossom
...
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Joey Wang ...
(scenes deleted)
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Storyline

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 <stomptokyo@aol.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

swordsman | desert | china | sequel | corpse | See more »

Genres:

Action | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for some violence | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

Official Sites:

| |  »

Country:

|

Language:

|

Release Date:

17 September 1994 (Hong Kong)  »

Also Known As:

Dung che sai duk  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office

Budget:

HKD 40,000,000 (estimated)

Gross:

SGD 368,000 (Singapore)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (Redux)

Sound Mix:

(Redux version)|

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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 »

Quotes

Ou-yang Feng: Where are you going?
Hung Chi: Places I've never been. With luck, I'll be famous. If one day you hear of a nine-fingered hero, that'll be me.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in My Sassy Girl (2001) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Haunting, beautiful and rather wonderful - one of Wong Kar-Wei's very best films
5 April 2005 | by (London, England) – See all my reviews

'Ashes of Time' is the rarest of Wong Kar Wei's films and best remembered as the one that so confounded him that he went off and made 'Chungking Express' to clear his mind before finishing it. Actually, it's worth remembering in its own right, as he brings his uniquely romantic take on the world to the fantasy swordplay genre with the expected unexpected results. There are sword fights, most of them pretty good, but the fantasy is kept to the bare minimum with the focus on the emotional cost of being a professional killer. Love is lost and so are memories, vengeance is sought and denied, characters meet but fail to connect, secrets are kept and regrets shared, all filtered through Leslie Cheung's inn on the edge of the desert where he acts as agent for killers for hire. The interest here isn't in action but reasons, and in the emotional cost of pursuing a life of violence, all captured via his usual dreamlike imagery and poetic confessional narration. Part Hong Kong, part European, part Leone (acknowledged/plagiarised at times in the score), not everything works, but the parts that do are quite magnificent, whether it's a woman tracing her hand over the sleeping body of a man who is not her lover or the curiously memorable shots of the horse thieves waiting their turn in a battle.

It can get confusing – not only do the characters sometimes blur into each other but he even hires both Tony Leungs for key roles in the same film while Brigitte Lin plays dual roles and, just to add to the clarity, the film's chronology is very misleading – but it's worth bearing with. A film I'll definitely be returning to, and I suspect more than just the once.


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