The past plays a huge role in the work of Wong Kar Wai. His characters are haunted by friends, lovers and eras both long and recently departed. Wong's cinema recognizes that the passage of time is inevitable. Nothing can stop it. In this film in particular, characters are literally fighting the future via exquisitely staged kung fu battles. Yet no matter who wins any particular match, history marches on. It is a wave that cannot be stopped. Some things are allowed to endure. Others are pulled out to sea in a rip current. Those are the cold, hard facts. Yet unlike other Wong Kar Wai films which tend to focus on the person in mourning, this film gives voice to the one being mourned as well. It's just as hard for the vertical as for the horizontal. Nobody gets an easy break.