The original 1994 version of Ashes of Time is probably the least well known of Hong Kong master Wong Kar Wai’s nine feature films. There are numerous reasons for this: its batshit, inscrutable narrative; its lack of a proper theatrical release in the U.S.; and the need for a definitive DVD being at the top of the list. That's all changed with the release of Ashes of Time Redux, which debuted at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival and was followed by a brief art-house run in the U.S. last fall.
While Wong’s restored version does little to clear up its elliptical narrative — the film is inspired by an epic martial-arts novel that centers on a pair of desolation-ridden mercenaries — its rapturous, color-saturated images and its new score more than make up for any cognitive dissonance.
The DVD’s “special features” include a brief documentary on the making of the film (which includes an illuminating interview with Wong’s ace cinematographer, Chris Doyle) and a Q&A with the director moderated by Village Voice film critic J. Hoberman, who calls Ashes of Time “insanely gorgeous” and Wong “one of the greatest filmmakers to emerge anywhere in the last 20 years.” I’ll second both of those observations. Grade: A-