Brigitte Lin

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Ashes Of Time Redux Review


Excellent
Six months after he went all gooey over America in My Blueberry Nights, Wong Kar-Wai returns packing a re-tooled cut of his indecipherable 1994 martial-arts whatsit Ashes of Time, now provocatively titled Ashes of Time Redux. The missing link between the buzzed buffoonery of the Chinese filmmaker's first two films and the intoxicating hysteria of Chungking Express and Fallen Angels now finds itself aligned more with the latter stylized works of an auteur rather than the baby steps of a confused film school graduate.

Not much clearer for the digital colorization, edits, and a new score by Yo Yo Ma, the rushing surge of the film's narrative strands might remain perplexing unless you're equipped with the film's press notes. Focused mainly on the hazy remembrances of Ouyang Feng (Leslie Cheung), Kar-Wai facilitates a whirling, desert-set phantasma where swordsmen brood like Goethe when they aren't doing battle with thieves... and their women are simultaneously incapable of forgetting or remembering their lovers.

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Chungking Express Review


Excellent
If Happy Together and In the Mood for Love are director Wong Kar Wai's Hong Kong art house ballads, Chungking Express is his smash-hit pop song -- light and fun with a hint of truth. While the two former films explore relationships to their innermost depths, Express flirts with the nostalgic grief and forlorn desperation in finding and losing love through its individual characters. But what it lacks in thematic depth it makes up for in charisma and honesty.

Chungking Express offers two parallel stories of love and loss brought together by a dine-and-dash eatery. In the first half of the film, a detective (Takeshi Kaneshiro) stops in at the local greasy food dive while pining over his lost love. And in the second half, a beat street cop (Tony Leung) stops in while also pining over his lost love. Although Kaneshiro's desperation and tragic romanticism sparks our interest in the first story of the film, it's the second story that really captures our attention. The power of that second story line comes from Faye Wong, who invades the screen (and Tony Leung's) apartment with childish charm and an obsession with the Mama's and Papa's "California Dreaming."

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The Legend of the Swordsman Review


OK
A decade before Crouching Tiger, Jet Li was flying and spinning impossibly in this ninja/kung fu/sorcerer kinda story. Although it has none of the production values of the movies it inspired, The Legend of the Swordsman (actually a sequel to an earlier film, made with an entirely different cast) is often entertaining, though equally often is tiresome.

Li stars as Ling Wei, a member of a religious sect trying to get out of the world of violence. Of course, the sect stumbles upon a war and find themselves embroiled in it, replete with supernatural battles and high-flying choreography.

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Ashes Of Time Review


Weak
Between the lousy DVD quality (dig the big gray bar that covers the bottom half of the screen -- that's where the subtitles go!) and the baffling story line (ancient China, guy living in the desert, magic wine, dual identities, and horse thieves!), the average viewer isn't going to exactly thrill to Ashes of Time's charms. As mood music, the movie's got its share of beautiful, tragic, and poetic moments. As an entertainment experience, the detractors who find the movie to be on the dull side have a point or two.

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