An “agent” specialising as a middle man for wandering swordsmen ponders life and unrequited love as his clients come and go.
Wong Kar Wai’s ponderous samurai story is typical of his work; it concentrates more on visual beauty and existential musing than action or drama and as such feels more like a piece of audio-visual poetry than outright entertainment. Ashes Of Time looks as sumptuous as you’d expect and the attractive cast are all appealing but there is so little to the story that there never feels like there is anything into which the viewer can truly get their teeth. The action scenes are all too brief and the visual trappings and camera trickery serve only to make it rather more difficult to tell what is actually happening.
Like all of Wong Kar Wai’s films, there is little to fault technically but those looking for a satisfying and involving story, the navel-gazing of Ashes Of Time is a little too pretentious and ultimately, pointless.