Ashes of Time
Ashes of Time is an early masterpiece from director Wong Kar-Wai. The same cannot be said for this DVD edition. The video quality is appalling; it's worse than a tenth-generation VHS tape. Grain, blurriness, and distortion lay waste to Christopher Doyle's marvelous cinematography. The presentation is also too dark and ruined by an oversaturation of color. Subtitles are placed in the massive lower black bar, which cuts off the lower part of the image; the actors' mouths are frequently obscured by the bar, as are key elements in action sequences. The sound is reduced to a tinny mess with no dynamic range, as it's far too high-pitched. The subtitles are frequently awkward, suffering from a weak translation. Further, words linger on the screen far too long after the characters have spoken their dialogue. The included trailer would be a stylish treat were it not for the cheap titles and similarly horrible transfer quality. The "Scene Selections" feature is symbolic of the overall shoddy production quality; the 95-minute movie is broken into only five chapters, and "Show Start" and "End Credits" take up two of them. The menu gives access to the chapters via chapter number and title. A beautiful, poetic film by a cinematic master has been reduced to a pathetic shambles.