The Wheel of Life (1983)

Moderately interesting anthology film
Reviewed by Simon on 2024-01-21

Another Taiwanese anthology film from three of the four directors who made Four Moods, this one tells three stories about star-crossed lovers who are reincarnated across time.

First Life (King Hu)
The daughter of an official is betrothed to a despot but in love with a rebel, who attempts to free her when a highly ranked brocade guard collects her for the wedding.

This is a period wuxia that revisits aspects of King Hu's wuxia classics and is beautifully filmed, with a rather nice action scene early on.

Second Life (Lee Hsing)
The singer in a struggling Peking Opera troupe catches the eye of a wealthy local noble son, but senior figures on both sides object to their union.

This is more of a classic melodrama, with some eye-catching opera scenes.

Third Life (Pai Ching-Jui)
A modern dance troupe put on a performance for a village in an island backwater, whilst an ancient Taoist ritual is being performed at the same time.

This is a bit of an oddball, starting with an eerie abstract dance performance and ending with what seems to be genuine footage of a freakish festival with alarming acts of self-mutilation.

Fourth Life (?)
The end credits

Each segment is about 35 minutes (err, except the end credits, thank god), with King Hu's unsurprisingly being the most engaging - basically being "typical King Hu stuff" in miniature. The other sections are solid but I'm a sucker for King Hu-ness, or perhaps just wuxia in general, so they didn't tickle me in quite the same way.