I watched it too long ago. I guess I have to get the DVD to rewatch it if you want me to recall or explain scenes by scenes ... * naughty grin *
But I definitely can share a few interesting things about the film.
The Chinese title is "East Evil West Venom" (literally). "East Evil" (aka Huang Yao Shi) and "West Venom" (aka Ou Yang Feng) are two major characters in the famous martial arts novel "Legend of the Condor Heroes" by Jin Yong.
But, Wong Kar Wai is NOT doing an adaptation. What he tries to do, is to create his own story of what could probably have happened to these two characters when they were teenagers (i.e., not really elaborated in the novel) to let them become what they were at this old age. In fact, he is not interested in events as much as the pyschology and emotions underlying these two characters -- that is why the film is more "mood driven" rather than "events driven."
The gist of the film is:
-- "East Evil" brought a wine (that could help one forget his past) to "West Venom". While the former drank heartily, the latter wouldn't. Over time, many travellers passed by the inn to tell their stories about lost love and their hope for lost memories.
Many moviegoers (during then) were attracted to the film
-- because the novel was very widely read, and there were many good Hong Kong TVB serials (i.e., TV serials) of the novel. It simply had a very interesting story.
-- because the film had a very fantastic cast ... wow
However, * drum roll *, many moviegoers were surprised/disappointed
-- because WKW adopted a "non martial arts" take, and went for a "more drama" take.
-- because it was slow paced ... BUT many were anticipating a martial arts film, thereby aggravating the disappointment ...
-- because of the nonlinear narration, many could not understand what he was driving at ...
The film was however awarded with the Best Cinematography and Best Editing in Golden Horse Award.