particularly known for powerful cinematic exports, China
occasionally makes a real gem of a film and shares it with
the world. The latest diamond in the rough to emerge is
Hero, the newest film by Zhang Yimou (Yimou Zhang,
if we’re thinking in Western terms). Starring Jet
Li, this historical, dramatic and slightly romantic kung
fu flick is a fantastic example of what the Chinese film
industry can produce, when given the proper kinds of attention
film takes place during the reign of the first emperor,
Qin (played by Chen Daoming). A bloodthirsty warlord, he’s
earned the hatred of many of the people he’s conquered
in his march to his dream of a unified empire, and lives
in protective isolation to prevent his death by assassination.
One of his magistrates approaches. Nameless (Jet Li) claims
to have defeated the Emperor’s three most feared enemies,
Sky (Donnie Yen), Broken Sword (Tony Leung Chiu Wai), and
Flying Snow (Maggie Chiu), through cunning and martial skill.
of the events unfold in flashback format though the eyes
of Nameless, who tells of his martial skill in defeating
Sky, and of his intricate plot to use Broken Sword and Flying
Snow’s love against each other. We also see the story
through the eyes of the Emperor, who sees something much
more sinister and more threatening to his reign. When we
finally reach the truth, it’s not what’s expects,
and that’s a true delight.
first and foremost thing about this movie that anyone will
notice is the incredible cinematography. In fact, you may
miss parts of the movie because it’s so beautiful
that staring occupies more of your time than actually following
the plot. Hero is simply breathtaking in its visuals,
with rich colors in varying shades saturating many of the
flashbacks, and incredible shots of vistas and scenery that
the martial arts sequences (and there are plenty) are gorgeously
filmed, and the first fight sequence being a perfect example.
The partially imaginary battle in an open air chess house
in the rain is the best fight choreography and cinematography
that I have ever witnessed. Jet Li and Donnie Yen provide
amazing performances. Every fight in the movie is beautiful,
but this opening sequence is hands down the best.
plot of the movie is interesting, and has no basis in actual
history, except that the first Qin emperor was
really very bloody and ruthless, and did use war and death
to unite the six warring factions of China. The intricate
plot twists are interesting to watch unfold, as is each
version of the story. Nameless’ ability to manipulate
each of the assassins shows his character’s intelligence
and cunning. During the whole movie, we are reminded that
while the Emperor is the Emperor, and the assassins are
some of the best in the world, they are all still human.
Nameless is the one using their flaws, petty jealousies,
pride, and romantic affairs to his own purposes.
Li does a great job in his role as Nameless, keeping the
aloofness that Nameless needs to have, but still with the
determination and purpose of his goal very much in the fore.
All of the actors, while little known here in the US, do
very well in their roles, playing each part solidly and
strongly, bringing different nuances to each flashback,
showing us different versions of the same people with a
though their performances are strong, there are parts of
the film that feel slightly overdone, stepping in to the
realm of the melodramatic, and in those parts the movie
loses part of its epic feel, and starts to look like a really
well done soap opera. Thankfully, this doesn’t happen
often, and when it does, it doesn’t last long.
this movie has everything to make any film fan happy. It’s
a solidly written historical drama, with romance for some,
major fight scenes for others, a splendid cast and a great
story. Catch this one in the theater, folks. It’s