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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

(aka "Ashes of Time" TOP or 'Dung che sai duk redux' or 'Ashes of Time ReDux' BOTTOM)

 

http://www.dvdbeaver.com/film/direct-chair/wong.htm
Hong Kong / China / Taiwan 1994, 2008

From Director Wong Kar Wai comes the definitive version of Ashes of Time, an epic martial arts masterpiece of larger-than-life characters, breathtaking landscapes and exquisite fight scenes. The story centers on Ouyang Feng (Leslie Cheung), a heartbroken and cynical man who spends his days alone in the desert, connecting expert swordsmen with those seeking revenge and willing to pay for it. As Ouyang narrates his tale, interweaving the stories of his unusual clients, old friends and future foes, he begins to realize the mistakes of his own past, and how his fear of rejection may have led him to a life of exile.

***

Celebrated director Wong Kar-Wai revisits his 1994 film ASHES OF TIME, the Hong Kong filmmaker's only entry into the martial arts genre. Based on the novel by Louis Cha, this film follows a lone swordsman (Leslie Cheung) as time passes. ASHES OF TIME REDUX also stars Tony Leung Ka Fai, Brigitte Lin, and Tony Leung Chiu Wai, and it features an appearance by Maggie Cheung.

***

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 flick 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.

Excerpt from Reel.com (Chris Cabin) found HERE

Posters

Theatrical Release: Toronto Film Festival - Canada - September 16th, 1994 - ReDux - October 10th, 2008

Reviews                                    More Reviews                                  DVD Reviews

Comparison:

Zoke Culture - Region 0 - NTSC vs. Mei Ah - Region 0 - NTSC vs. Artificial Eye - Region FREE - Blu-ray vs. Sony - Region 1 - NTSC

Big thanks to Ole Kofoed and Gary Tooze for the DVD Screen Caps!

1) Zoke Culture - Region 0 - NTSC - LEFT

2) Mei Ah - Region 0 - NTSC - SECOND

3) Artificial Eye - Region FREE - Blu-ray - THIRD

4) Sony - Region 1 - NTSC - RIGHT

 

Box Covers

 

 

Distribution

Zoke Culture

Region 0 - NTSC

Mei Ah
Region 0 - NTSC
Artificial Eye
Region FREE -
Blu-ray
Sony
Region 1 - NTSC
Runtime1.37.331:37:521:33:19.0931:33:30
Video

1.90:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 4.28 mb/s
NTSC 704x480 29.97 f/s

1.89:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 4.68 mb/s
NTSC 704x480 29.97 f/s

Disc Size: 22,338,150,852 bytes

Feature Size: 16,959,995,904 bytes

Average Bitrate: 24.23 Mbps

Single-layered Blu-ray MPEG-4 AVC Video

1.85:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 6.10 mb/s
NTSC 704x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:

Zoke Culture

 

Bitrate:

 

Mei Ah

 

Bitrate:

 

Blu-ray

 

Bitrate:

Sony

 

AudioMandarin (dub) Dolby Digital 2.1Cantonese Dolby Digital 2.1,Mandarin (dub) Dolby Digital 2.1DTS-HD Master Audio Chinese 2211 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 2211 kbps / 16-bit
(DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
Dolby Digital Audio Chinese 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps

Cantonese Dolby Digital 5.1, DUB French Dolby Digital 5.1

SubtitlesChinese and English (Not removeable)Chinese and English (Not removeable)English, noneEnglish, none
FeaturesRelease Information:
Studio: Zoke Culture

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen letterboxed - 1.90:1

Edition Details:
• None.

DVD Release Date: December 2, 2003
Keep Case

Chapters 6

Release Information:
Studio: Mei Ah

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen letterboxed - 1.89:1

Edition Details:
• None.

 

DVD Release Date: August 1, 1999
Keep Case

Chapters 21

Release Information:
Studio: Artificial Eye

 

Disc Size: 22,338,150,852 bytes

Feature Size: 16,959,995,904 bytes

Average Bitrate: 24.23 Mbps

Single-layered Blu-ray MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Edition Details:

Extras cannot be played on a Region 'A' machine
• Interview with
Wong Kar-wai (5:09)

• Interview B with Wong Kar-wai (18:15)

• Interview with Christopher Doyle (16:45)

• Interview with Tony Leung (8:34)

• Interview with Charlie Young (9:43)

• Interview with Carina Lau (4:12)

Making Of Documentary (14:04)

• Theatrical trailer (2:06)

 

Blu-ray Release Date: January 26th, 2009
Standard Blu-ray Case

Chapters 21

Release Information:
Studio:
Sony

 

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen letterboxed - 1.85:1

 

 

Edition Details:
Making Of Documentary (14:04)

• Interview  with Wong Kar-wai by J. Hoberman (41:38)

• Theatrical trailer (2:06)

 

DVD Release Date: March 3rd, 2009
Standard DVD Case

Chapters 12

CommentsNOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were ripped directly from the Blu-ray disc.

ADDITION: Sony Region 1 - NTSC DVD - February 09': It's revealing to see the differences in DVD to hi-def for this release. The Sony isn't too bad - less detail, a bit glossy at times and the colors aren't as vibrant as they are on the Blu-ray (notable on Maggie's skin and lipstick capture below). Overall though the SD image seems relatively supportive. There is a little less information in the frame, and not as much depth on the Sony DVD but overall I am not disappointed - still, the Blu-ray is the way to go to see this film in its most animated glory.

Audio is a 5.1 but suffers from the same limitations as the Blu-ray and the original source. I can't say I recognize it as demonstratively flatter than the HD sound but technically the DTS-HD Master is superior. They are optional subtitles in a gaudy yellow font.

Extras have the same 15-minute Making of.. and a good 40 minutes with J. Hoberman talking with Wong that fans should eat up.

All-in-all not a bad effort from Sony - better than I was anticipating and it's unfortunate they didn't offer this in Blu - possibly dual-layered. The BR is the way to go but for those who haven't embraced the format or are keen on the extras that they can't access on a Region 'A' machine - this Sony seems to have acceptable value.

****

ADDITION: Artificial Eye - ReDux Blu-ray - January 09'.

NOTE: I can confirm that the Artificial Eye Blu-ray is region free and will play on Blu-ray machines worldwide.

Probably not our best idea to 'compare' these older DVD editions with this new Blu-ray ReDux. Although the ReDux is not technically a remake, it is a 'redone' version of the 1994 film as Wong discuss this in the supplemental interviews. It does, however have some extraordinary differences - especially visually. He claims it took 4 years as much of the older film was scattered , damaged or difficult to obtain. After the DVD editions that we reviewed I was always anxious to actually 'see' a decent edition of 'Ashes of Time' as the original transfers were unwatchable. The ReDux represents what Wong calls the 'definitive' version as the early releases were altered, by Asian distributors, without his consent (another reason why the ReDux was made at all.)

Technically the Blu-ray is not stellar being single-layered with only 17 Gig dedicated to the feature film. Not having seen it theatrically it is hard to critique the image. It is rife with color infusions, lightening fast cuts, separations and a vast amount of stylistic adaptation differing from the DVD versions that I saw. As much of the elements were in poor condition - modern computer techniques were utilized to produce the desirable sequences. It can look... 'interesting' if nothing else. I particularly enjoyed the grainer shots but the intense colors seemed overdone to me. It boils done to being 'art heavy' - if that term makes any sense.

Audio was a big issue in creating the ReDux as that specific part of the existing material was in the worst condition. It can be quite evident that this is problematic - even with the new bump to a DTS-HD Master track. I believe they have done a decent job of 'correction' but fans expecting a dynamic audio rendition will be disappointed. The language (so my Asian wife tells me) is mixed with some characters speaking Mandarin and often the response in Cantonese (!?!?). Certain conversations look to be a DUB with the sync off a bit. There is also a 5.1 Dolby track that I briefly tested. It sounded a bit hollow but I didn't make a full comparison. There are optional English subtitles.

Unfortunately all the extra features won't play on my Region 'A' Blu-ray player. I did watch, and enjoy them, on my computer though. In total you get over 20 minutes with Wong (in 2 separate interviews) responding to questions, 15 minutes of Chris Doyle and less than 10 each for the three actors - Tony Leung (8:34), Charlie Young (9:43) and Carina Lau (4:12). The Making of... shares similar information. There is also a trailer (that wouldn't play either).    

Very interesting, if confusing and dense film - almost bordering on 'experimental'. There is a DVD out by Artificial Eye HERE but I don't own to compare. I'd be surprised if it could reproduce the same levels of color brilliance and grain though. I will definitely watch this again and for those prepared to wade into these waters I'd recommend this Blu-ray - easily the most interesting hi-def disc of the early year.    

***

 

ON THE DVDs (reviewed in 2003): This ranks as one of the worst transferred films to DVD ever. I suspect one of these has ported from the other as the ingrained subs are exact. Only differences are the Mei Ah has the original Cantonese audio and the Zoke doesn't - the Zoke has menus and the Mei Ah doesn't and the Mei Ah has more chapter stops. DVDBeaver's recommendation is NOT to buy either of these DVDs at any cost (not even for free!). They are absolutely the pinnacle of 'horrible'. No Extras, burnt in subs and ghastly video and audio. Ughhh.

 - Gary Tooze

 


Recommended Reading in Chinese/Hong Kong/Taiwanese Cinema (CLICK COVERS or TITLES for more information)

Check out more in "The Library"


 

DVD Menus

(Zoke Culture - Region 0 - NTSC - LEFT vs. Mei Ah - Region 0 - NTSC - RIGHT)


 

ReDux Blu-ray Extras

 

 

Sony - Region 1 - NTSC - Menus/extras


 


 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

Screen Captures

 

1) Zoke Culture - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

2) Mei Ah - Region 0 - NTSC - SECOND

3) Artificial Eye - Region FREE - Blu-ray - THIRD

4) Sony - Region 1 - NTSC - BOTTOM

 

 

 


 

1) Zoke Culture - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

2) Mei Ah - Region 0 - NTSC - SECOND

3) Artificial Eye - Region FREE - Blu-ray - THIRD

4) Sony - Region 1 - NTSC - BOTTOM

 

 


 

1) Zoke Culture - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

2) Mei Ah - Region 0 - NTSC - SECOND

3) Artificial Eye - Region FREE - Blu-ray - THIRD

4) Sony - Region 1 - NTSC - BOTTOM

 

 

 


1) Zoke Culture - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

2) Mei Ah - Region 0 - NTSC - SECOND

3) Artificial Eye - Region FREE - Blu-ray - THIRD

4) Sony - Region 1 - NTSC - BOTTOM

NOTE: Not exact frame!

 

1) Artificial Eye - Region FREE - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Sony - Region 1 - NTSC - BOTTOM

 

 

 

1) Artificial Eye - Region FREE - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Sony - Region 1 - NTSC - BOTTOM

 

More Blu-ray Caps

 

 


Report Card:

 

Image:

Blu-ray

Sound:

Blu-ray

Extras:Blu-ray
Menu:Blu-ray

 

Box Covers

 

 

Distribution

Zoke Culture

Region 0 - NTSC

Mei Ah
Region 0 - NTSC
Artificial Eye
Region FREE -
Blu-ray
Sony
Region 1 - NTSC




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Gary Tooze

Many Thanks...