Tuesday, 4 September 2007

Ashes of Time (1994)

Chinese title: Eastern Heretic, Western Venom.

Not surprisingly, fans of wuxia would be disappointed with this film. This is an WKW film with his characters being placed in ancient China, not a general wuxia flick.

Ashes of Time (1994)As I remarked in his previous film Chungking Express (1994) that his movies are slowly evolving with past linkages. This wuxia is essentially The Days of Being Wild takes place in Chinese ancient setting. Of course, I'm not suggesting the characters and stories are the same. I'm saying the theme of exploring the inner worlds of the characters in these 2 movies are shared by both. Let's say there're much more in common between these 2 movies with very different settings than this movie with just about any other wuxia you care to name.

In both Chungking Express and this movie (which are made the same time), started with a man whose love being rejected. Ouyang Feng in this movie, and the 2 cops in Chungking Express (as I said before, you need to watch WKW movies in the right chronological order).

The 3 sequential movies The Days of Being Wild (1990), Chungking Express, and this film all deal with loss of love, the handling of rejections, and the 6 characters (2 in each film) all cope with the broken hearts in their unique ways. In this 1, Ouyang Feng deals with it in a destructive way. He becomes cynical, bitter, and inflicting pain on others the pain he received.

I'm a big fan of Louis Cha (pen name Jing Yong), and especially the Condors Trilogy. The characters in this film come from the 1st instalment of Condors Trilogy, The Legend of the Condor Heroes, aka Eagle-Shooting Heroes. Instead of doing an adaptation to Louis Cha's novel, WKW made this a 'prequel' to Cha's novel.

This film tells of 3 out of the 5 important characters in Eagle-Shooting Heroes who lives in the 5 compass points of China (NEWS and Centre). The other 3 - 1 lives the north, and the other in the south and centre - are good guys. The 2 villains - 1 lives in the east, and the other in the west - appear in this film. As you can see, only the 2 bad guys were used for this film. This movie aren't about heroes (bad guys fill up WKW's works). It's a 'prequel' because the 2 characters in question - Huang Yaoshi, and Ouyang Feng are already past middled ages in Eagle-Shooting Heroes. This film tells how they come to be when they are younger.

This film takes place in 5 seasons (no typo. Chinese Almanac divides the years into 5 seasons. As are 5 compass points) with 5 seperate encounters with Ouyang Feng. In the 1st with Huang Yaoshi and Murong. In the 2nd with the peasant girl carrying eggs, and blind swordsman. The 3rd with HongQi. He leaves Ouyang Feng for the north, and later becomes the 1 of the 5 great martial artists of the 5 compass points - Northern Beggar. The 4th with the blind swordsman's widow, and Huang Yaoshi moves east and becomes the Eastern Heretic. The 5th, he moves west and becomes known as Western Venom.

Here's a link to those 5 characters from Louis Cha's novel.

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