7.2/10
12,180
45 user 127 critic

Ashes of Time (1994)

Dung che sai duk (original title)
Trailer
2:20 | Trailer
A broken-hearted hit man moves to the desert where he finds skilled swordsmen to carry out his contract killings.

Director:

Kar-Wai Wong (as Kar Wai Wong)

Writers:

Louis Cha (novel), Kar-Wai Wong (screenplay) (as Kar Wai Wong)
9 wins & 13 nominations. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Learn more

More Like This 

Crime | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

A man tries to find out who his real mother is after the woman who raised him tells him the truth.

Director: Kar-Wai Wong
Stars: Leslie Cheung, Maggie Cheung, Andy Lau
Crime | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

Mid-level gangster Wah falls in love with his beautiful cousin, but must also continue to protect his volatile partner-in-crime and friend, Fly.

Director: Kar-Wai Wong
Stars: Andy Lau, Maggie Cheung, Jacky Cheung
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

A couple take a trip to Argentina but both men find their lives drifting apart in opposite directions.

Director: Kar-Wai Wong
Stars: Leslie Cheung, Tony Chiu-Wai Leung, Chen Chang
Action | Biography | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

The story of martial-arts master Ip Man, the man who trained Bruce Lee.

Director: Kar-Wai Wong
Stars: Tony Chiu-Wai Leung, Ziyi Zhang, Jin Zhang
Fallen Angels (1995)
Comedy | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

This Hong Kong-set crime drama follows the lives of a hitman, hoping to get out of the business, and his elusive female partner.

Director: Kar-Wai Wong
Stars: Leon Lai, Michelle Reis, Takeshi Kaneshiro
2046 (2004)
Drama | Romance | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

Several women enter a science fiction author's life over the course of a few years, after the author has lost the woman he considers his one true love.

Director: Kar-Wai Wong
Stars: Tony Chiu-Wai Leung, Ziyi Zhang, Faye Wong
Comedy | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

Two melancholy Hong Kong policemen fall in love: one with a mysterious female underworld figure, the other with a beautiful and ethereal server at a late-night restaurant he frequents.

Director: Kar-Wai Wong
Stars: Brigitte Lin, Takeshi Kaneshiro, Tony Chiu-Wai Leung
Action | Comedy | Fantasy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

A parody of Louis Cha's novel The Eagle Shooting Heroes (thats the literal translation). Story begins with the Queen of Golden Wheel Kingdom had an affair with her cousin West Poison, and ... See full summary »

Director: Jeffrey Lau
Stars: Leslie Cheung, Brigitte Lin, Maggie Cheung
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

A young lonely woman takes a soul-searching journey across America to resolve her questions about love while encountering a series of offbeat characters along the way.

Director: Kar-Wai Wong
Stars: Norah Jones, Jude Law, Natalie Portman
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

Two neighbors, a woman and a man, form a strong bond after both suspect extramarital activities of their spouses. However, they agree to keep their bond platonic so as not to commit similar wrongs.

Director: Kar-Wai Wong
Stars: Tony Chiu-Wai Leung, Maggie Cheung, Ping Lam Siu
Drama | Music | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

The story of two men, who met as apprentices in the Peking Opera, and stayed friends for over 50 years.

Director: Kaige Chen
Stars: Leslie Cheung, Fengyi Zhang, Li Gong
Dragon Inn (1992)
Action | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

This big hit at the Sundance Film Festival had audiences cheering. Set during the Ming Dynasty, this acclaimed production tells the story of a power hungry eunuch who employs an evil sect ... See full summary »

Directors: Raymond Lee, Siu-Tung Ching, and 1 more credit »
Stars: Tony Ka Fai Leung, Brigitte Lin, Maggie Cheung
Edit

Cast

Complete credited cast:
Brigitte Lin ... Mu-rong Yin / Mu-rong Yang
Leslie Cheung ... Ou-yang Feng
Maggie Cheung ... The Woman
Tony Chiu-Wai Leung ... Blind Swordsman (as Tony Chiu Wai Leung)
Jacky Cheung ... Hung Chi
Tony Ka Fai Leung ... Huang Yao-shi
Li Bai Li Bai ... Hung Chi's Wife
Carina Lau ... Peach Blossom
Charlie Yeung ... Young Girl
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Joey Wang ... (scenes deleted)
Edit

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

Genres:

Action | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for some violence | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
Edit

Details

Official Sites:

Official site | Official site [Spain] | See more »

Country:

Hong Kong | Taiwan

Language:

Mandarin | Cantonese

Release Date:

17 September 1994 (Hong Kong) See more »

Also Known As:

Ashes of Time See more »

Filming Locations:

China

Edit

Box Office

Budget:

HKD40,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$21,372, 12 October 2008

Gross USA:

$174,273

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$1,912,490
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (Redux)

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital (Redux version)| Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

Apparently, Joey Wong, Veronica Yip, and Kenny Bee were originally also in the cast list of Ashes of Time. Due to Wong Kar Wai's shooting overrun of epic scales, producer Jeff Lau gathered everyone and shot The Eagle Shooting Heroes, a nonsensical comedy version of the story and maintained many of Wong Kar Wai's original casting decisions.

During this break, Wong Kar Wai decided to have a complete overhaul of who plays who. By then, Joey Wong had to leave the production for her other filming obligations. Wong Kar Wai wanted to delete all of Joey Wong's footage, but she was already listed as a cast member in the rushes screened to film investors, hence he retained an 8-second shot of Joey Wong's side profile in the Taiwanese print (this did not survive in the redux version).

Charlie Yeung later joined the production as a quasi-replacement for Joey Wong. See more »

Quotes

Hung Chi: [to Ou-yang Feng] If I get killed in a fight, don't take people to see my body. I don't want to be talking corpse!
See more »

Alternate Versions

Wong Kar-wai revisited the film and created the Redux version which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival 2008. This version has alternative footage and changes in the order of scenes. The Redux version has new opening titles, and the season's fade-ins introducing each chapter are new. It also has a new color-scheme and a new soundtrack. Some scenes from the original version have been deleted, for example the two main character's introduction in the beginning. The overall run time of the Redux version is slightly shorter than the original theatrical version. See more »

Connections

Spoofed in Chinese Odyssey 2002 (2002) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

 
A haunting postmodern genre revision...
16 June 1999 | by zdacSee all my reviews

Loosely based on the Chinese heroic literature classic, "The Eagle-Shooting Heroes" by prolific Wuxia author Louis Cha, ASHES OF TIME is conspicuous for the unusual and postmodern approach it takes to a genre so firmly entrenched in Hong Kong cinema.

The "story" consists interactions between various characters as they weave in and out of each other's lives, with a small village in a bleak desert wasteland as the crossroads. These vignettes are not always sequential, and we must gradually piece together the relationships and backgrounds of the protagonists, some of which contribute to a larger story, while others do not. The all-star cast portrays a varied palette of characters, perfectly flawed incarnations of fantastical beings, with performances teetering on the line between disarming humanity and iconic romanticism.

One thing to love about this movie is the way that director Wong Kar-Wai takes the reflective internal monologues and quirky, alienated losers from his other films and transposes them to the world of Chinese heroic fantasy. It's an interesting idea that both ennobles and deconstructs the genre. Martial-arts superheroes who can literally shear mountainsides with a wave of the sword, mired in their own personal conflicts and bouts with inadequacy, in the points of time that occur between the legend-worthy events. This unusual treatment lends these mythic characters a familiar dimension that is both poetic and banal. The cast and the desert are wrenchingly beautiful in the same starkly desolate way. The music consists of odd synth dirges, like a moody clash of Ennio Morricone and Vangelis (particularly the 1492 soundtrack), but it is nonetheless hauntingly atmospheric.

ASHES OF TIME is a truly beautiful movie. The cinematography is a lush blend of stunningly arid vistas, iconic posturing, minute sensual gestures, grainy documentary-style camera-work, and stylish, impressionistic fight sequences. A visual metaphor for textiles and tapestry persists, with the various interwoven plots echoed in the camera's almost tactile attention to fabric and texture throughout... sometimes tightly bound like an inescapable net, others fraying apart like elusive memories.

That said, this movie is not going to appeal to everyone. The disjointed dreamlike narrative can be confusing initially, with so many characters behaving in obscure ways, backwards and forwards in time. Still, in the end, if you take some time to retrace your steps, it all does fit together remarkably well. The puzzle pieces really do form a coherent picture, but for most people it will probably take a second viewing to see it all.

Also, those looking for the action sequences Hong Kong movies are famous for, will find the emphasis is on the characters and their meandering thoughts. When the (nonetheless exciting and very cool) action scenes do take place, they are blurred hyperkinetic washes of motion. While Hong Kong action films have some of the greatest choreography captured on film, ASHES OF TIME attempts to capture an impressionistic, psychological aspect as well, sometimes obscuring the action as much as displaying it.

This movie takes many of its cues from Sergio Leone's revisionist westerns. The stylized desert environment is the wastes of New Mexico revisited through Chinese legend, complete with tormented superhumanly-skilled anti-hero swordsmen/gunslingers, lost, deromanticized ideals, melodramatic showdowns, and roving hundreds-strong gangs of horse thieves. Still, Ashes of Time manages to be its own beast, a technical, artistic, visual, sentimental masterpiece, that gives a new twist on old conventions, while simultaneously managing to belong very much to Wong Kar-Wai's thematic oeuvre. A movie you won't easily forget.


39 of 50 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 45 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Free Movies and TV Shows You Can Watch Now

On IMDb TV, you can catch Hollywood hits and popular TV series at no cost. Select any poster below to play the movie, totally free!

Browse free movies and TV series

Stream Popular Action and Adventure Titles With Prime Video

Explore popular action and adventure titles available to stream with Prime Video.

Start your free trial



Recently Viewed