The Quentin Tarantino Archives logo

Ashes of Time Redux

“The first surprise about Wong Kar-wai’s revamped, re-edited and rescored version of his 1994 cult wuxia classic Ashes Of Time is just how little has been changed. The second is how much these minor tweaks still have helped clarify the Hong Kong auteur’s interpretation of Louis Cha’s historical fantasy novel The Eagle-Shooting Hero, confirming that his most poetic, experimental film belongs not in the curiosity cabinet but on the big screen.”

I love Wong Kar Wai’s work, and I’ve never seen Ashes of Time. Hope I’ll get to see it in the near future.

And now everything went upside down. Latest reports say Wong has butchered his film (spoilers in the first quote)

I have seen it 3 times in Cannes.


  • the redux version is 93 minutes, shorter than the others editions;
  • the entire movie is restored in digital and the colors are a bit sature;
  • the first images are a little different: Wong has inserted a big yellow-moon in a storm;
  • Wong has removed the first two battle scene!!! So we can’t see the first appearence of the horse thieves…
  • the main titles & ending titles are different;
  • the music is a lot different: Wong has removed the fantastic music from 3 important sequences;
  • the editing is a little different in 2-3 scenes: for example, the flashback of the night of the marriage of Maggie Cheung is a bit longer;
  • Brigitte Lin doesn’t scream in the impressive lake scene;
  • Wong has removed the (dead) cat hanged on the wall in the sequence of Huang and Yin;
  • Wong has removed the shot in witch Tony jump on the roof in the battle with the thieves;
  • the battle scene of Tony and the thieves is a lot different in the sound and in color-correction;
  • the splitting blood of the poor Tony (sigh!) is a bit more detailed, probably digitally corrected;
  • Wong has removed one shot (of two!) where the sick Hong Qui is helped by his wife;
  • Wong has inserted 2 short (and not very well cut) images of peach blossoms;
  • the editing of the very final sequence is different: in this new one there is only Leslie Cheung with long hair;
  • 2 shots color-corrected: the stop-frame of Tony Leung and the image of the face of Tony with blue sky in the background;
  • Wong has added the 4 season didascalie on black background;
  • the subtitles are sometimes a bit different.

  • <LINK_TEXT text=“ … /106574703”></LINK_TEXT>

[quote=" Bob Violence / ADVDG"]Nobody’s done a detailed comparison yet, obviously, but according to the reviews out of Cannes, the following changes have been made:

-New opening titles

-New closing credits

-Re-edited fight scenes

-Mixed-language dialogue (Brigitte speaks Mandarin, everybody else speaks Cantonese)

-The original music is almost completely gone, replaced by a more classical-sounding Wu Tong score

-“Added intertitles denoting various Chinese solar terms”

-General picture/audio cleanup (but you knew that already)

The running time is 93 minutes, but apparently five minutes of that are the closing credits, so it’s actually a couple of minutes shorter than the original international cut. No idea what’s missing (the Variety review only mentions “a few dialogue excisions”). The U.S. release is currently set for September.[/quote]

[quote=" Spannick / ADVDG"]there is an aprrox 6 min Promoreel on youtube, there you can witness the the Music and Color Changes.[/quote]

WKW shouldn’t be that maniac about editing. I don’t know why he’s done another version of Ashes of Time if he’s butchered it… He should trust himself more.

that’s unfortunate.i have never seen this movie and now i’m not sure which one i should see

The original is pretty long and has some dead times BUT I guess the soul of the movie, the real thing is in it. Have you already seen some of WKW ? Cause it’s sure not the most exciting.

The whole thing started when Wong wanted the remaster the film. The US, HK and JP dvds are among the worst quality dvds ever released of a notable 90’s film. The only decent dvd is the french dvd, but it’s the heavily cut international version.

When Wong started the remastering process, he realized that all the sources were in terrible condition. The only way was to track down different prints around the world and also do extensive digital cleaning. That was when he was struck by the Lucas virus and thought why not re-do the whole film, to make it as it was “originally meant to be” (yeah, right).

Unfortunately now the existence of this new version lowers the chances of ever getting a decent quality release of the original version.

The original is pretty long and has some dead times BUT I guess the soul of the movie, the real thing is in it. Have you already seen some of WKW ? Cause it’s sure not the most exciting.

Na nah, Ashes is his most fascinating film, even if Chungking Express is his best.

I’ve seen most of his other movies, so I know what I’m getting myself into

I wouldn’t have expected something else from you, Seb :wink:

I saw it at BIFF and I thought the Redux was good. I don’t know about Wong “butchering” it. I’m not sure if it’s because I’ve already seen the original film, but I felt like this one was perhaps easier to understand and maybe more coherent. There’s a longer period without fighting at the start because of the removal of early battle sequences, but I don’t think that’s really an issue. Wong is not really known for his battle sequences. It’s not like John McTiernan went back and removed half the battle scenes from Die Hard or anything.

All these complaints are just fanboys whining that the film is different. Even if he’d kept everything in and added another half an hour, there still would probably be complaints (Apocalypse Now Redux anyone?). It’s not worse, it’s just different. People just get attached to what was originally there and are unable to see past the removal of sequences and changing of music. It’s just nostalgia. I mean, hey, I’m very nostalgic, but Redux is a different film. I don’t see it as a replacement of the original, but as a later career re-evaluation of his work. Those posts make it sound like Wong has gone mad and destroyed his film. Bullshit. Wong knew what he was doing and it shows. Redux is a tightening of a film that he had many production problems with. Ashes of Time (the original) is a good example of Wong then. Redux is a good example of Wong as he is now. Of course it’s going to be different. Everyone should just get over it.

word. that comforts me. i’ll try to get the redux then

I’ve seen it now. I went in with low expectations but I was surprised. It’s a lot worse than I though. The new remastering is a disaster. The image is now glazing orange / green, even dark at times. Dirt and scratches are gone, but so is film grain, at expense of sharpness of course. Digital touch shows in numerous new reflection effects. In the beginning there’s an apocalyptic cgi sun added next to the swordsmen. New and appalling opening and closing credits have been added.

Perhaps even worse is the â€

well great, mr wong, now i don’t know what to watch. i hate this. why didnt he do it like coppola, who just made his masterpiece even better :wink:

I’ve seen the Redux version just now in a cinema and didn’t like it. Couldn’t get into the whole drama thing. Maybe I’m just tired of drama epics. Even the fight scenes were meh.

I’ve never seen the original version, but cutting out fight scenes that were choreographed by Sammo Hung equals bad idea. I doubt that the original is different enough for me to like it, but I will try to get a hold of it anyhow, just out of curiosity. Then again, this is WKW we are talking about. He can be awesome.

Thanks Angel and Hung Fist for your comments.

[quote=“Hung Fist”]
Stylistically it’s now more in line with Wong’s recent, more coherent drama features.

We both agree on that, but see the consequences a little differently. As I said before, this film is a good example of Wong as he is now. That, to me, is the only reason to make a Redux. Sometimes (as in the case of My Brother’s Wedding, for example) re-edits are made just to get the film to look like originally intended. But in this case, I think it’s more to make a Ashes of Time as the new Wong. If I had to compare the two, we would also agree on Redux not being as good as the original. But as I said before, I was determined not to compare them. Maybe I should compare them, but being someone who is very nostalgic I knew that I’d never give Redux a chance if I were to compare them.