Wong Kar Wai - Ashes of Time (1994)

[carina lau] Tony Leung even kicks ass blind. Or going there, to go there, to see the peach blossoms, to see them in bloom . . . And swords and cutting off fingers and girls in drag so Mu Lan meets Fist of the North Star in the middle of the desert over the next hill lies...

With one of those plots even Tolkien couldn't follow the narrative, like the heroes in that other great Chinese romance adaptation to hit the States, Ang Lee's Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, floats. What makes it work is Wong Kar Wai's now patent impressionism; while there's a concreteness, almost a precision in the deserts of Tiger, Wong's (comparable) desert shots actually feel empty. His fights make your head spin, rather than merely lamenting the shortcomings of the technology that fails to capture his actors' speed.