Ashes Of Time (HK 1994)

Rating: **
Director: Wong Kar Wai
Martial Arts Director: Samo Hung
Cast: Leslie Cheung, Brigitte Lin, Tony Leung (Ka Fai), Tony Leung (Chiu Wai), Jacky Cheung, Maggie Cheung, Charlie Young

Asian Cult Cinema best described this as "chop-socky for the art theater crowd" - not my kind of thing. It even has that annoying art film narrative sound quality. And even though Samo Hung directed the martial arts sequences, they're mostly filmed in blur-motion so you can't tell what's going on. Yeah, it's art, but it's annoying! And the story? Something about the human condition and the futility of everything. Very moody, depressing, and non-linear. Fine performances by everybody - Tony Leung (Chiu Wai) is great as the going-blind swordsman, Charlie Young is beautiful as a helpless and despondant villager, Maggie Cheung is wonderfully depressing as well. Only Leslie Cheung's performance seems to fall flat, but maybe that was intended. Overall - not bad filmmaking, just tedious.