Seated at one of the beachside pavilions at Cannes, Wong Kar-wai is all smiles about being finally able to present his latest work to the world, a film that took him four years to deliver. 'This felt like a new movie to me,' Wong says. Yet the irony is that it's not a new film but a re-edited version of a 14-year-old picture. The 49-year-old filmmaker's latest entry at the festival is Ashes of Time Redux, a new version of his take on Louis Cha's novel The Eagle-shooting Heroes. The original is known for its long gestation period (it took two years for Wong to finish), its eschewing of wuxia convention in lacking a clear plot and its tepid performance at the box office when it was released in 1994 (it made just less than HK$10 million locally, covering just a quarter of its budget). Given film's troubled history, Wong could be forgiven for feeling vindicated now Ashes of Time Redux is screening at one of the world's most important film festivals - and one which has treated him well for the past decade, furnishing him with a best director title, four nominations for the Palme d'Or and the presidency of the jury in 2005. And he's not meek about his feelings: 'It's a film that might well be made today,' he says. The makeover Wong and his team have given Ashes of Time has brought to the film a contemporary look: there are brand new title and end-credit sequences done with computer-generated graphics that weren't common when it was made, and the images are more vivid after extensive remastering. 'The idea [of making a new version] came in 1999, when the laboratory that had stored the negatives was shutting up shop,' says Wong. 'When we got them back they had been seriously damaged from flooding [in the storage vaults] and other things.' That led to a search for prints among local distributors and cinemas, which went beyond Hong Kong, to cinemas in Chinatowns in America, where Wong's team discovered many copies of the film. Ashes of Time Redux is more than just an effort to deliver a remastered version for the digital age, even if much of the work involved merely lifting the best images from reels collected. The narrative flow - such as it was - was reworked to make the relationships among the multitude of characters more accessible, so rather than flitting between different plot strands, the new version goes from one to another, making clear the relationships lead character Ouyang Feng (played by the late Leslie Cheung Kwok-wing, below) has with the swordsmen he hires as contract killers (Tony Leung Ka-fai, Tony Leung Chiu-wai and Jacky Cheung Hok-yau) and the troublesome amorous affairs they're entangled in (with Carina Lau Ka-ling, Charlie Young Choi-nei and Maggie Cheung Man-yuk). Apart from reshuffling original material, Wong also recorded new versions of some of the voiceovers, and Yo-Yo Ma was recruited to record extra cello parts for the soundtrack. The new version of the film is less convoluted than the original, which alienated many viewers on its release, and it may meet with more success when it hits cinemas again. But it's by no means easy viewing, as evinced by audiences walking out of the film's first press screening at Cannes on Sunday. It remains to be seen whether Wong's least-appreciated film will find a new audience, or whether it will remain simply too obscure for most viewers.