China was once divided into seven warring kingdoms: Qin, Zhao, Han Wei, Yan, Chu and Qi. For years, the states fought for supremacy, condemning their citizens to decades of death and suffering.
The most determined warlord is the King of Qin, who harbours an obsession with conquering all of China and becoming her first Emperor. The king has seen off countless assassins from the other six kingdoms - but three remain elusive: the legendary Broken Sword (Tony Leung), Flying Snow (Maggie Cheung) and Sky (Donnie Yen).
The King promises power and fortune to anyone who can defeat the deadly trio but for 10 years no one even comes close to claiming the prize. That is until the county sheriff Nameless (Jet Li) arrives at the palace.
Nameless has an extraordinary tale to tell the king - and has in his possession the assassins' legendary weapons...
This land doesn't know a real hero. Yet.
In ancient times China was divided into seven kingdoms. Qin, the king of the northern province, is under permanent threat of assassination attempts. His greatest fears are the warriors "Broken Sword", "Flying Snow" and "Sky". One day one of the magistrates of his kingdom enters the palace, claims that he defeated all three of the emperor's adversaries and tells his story; how he beat "Sky" in a duel and used the love between "Broken Sword" and "Flying Snow" to subdue them.
After two years of hearing about the myth of the most expensive Chinese film ever made, Hero has finally floated on to British cinema screens. As it flies, it trails a coloured cloth that carries the film's numerous morals and messages which descend upon you like a soft layer of fabric. This is a film that can lift your spirits and have you laughing out in sheer joy as you gaze in wonder at the perfection of the mise-en-scene and cinematography. That is, if you let the film take you on a journey, without pondering the films questionable plot points.
Hero is two sides of a tale as presented by Nameless (Jet Li), a mere Prefect who defeated three deadly assassins, and the King of Qin (Daoming Chen), the man the assassins wished to kill. Nameless weaves his heroic though modest story of how he killed the assassins, but the King remains unconvinced, spinning his own version of how he believed events unfolded.
Director Yimou Zhang takes us through Nameless' story first, spreading the battle sequences thick, allowing them to take their own time. In the King's version, certain battles are then revised, which is remarkably brave considering that some battles are utter fabrications. In one such fictitious fight, in a faultlessly designed set, Nameless and Sky (Donnie Yen) close their eyes and fight out the battle within their minds. Screen time is being spent lavishly on showing how two characters contemplated a fight, whilst fighting each other in a battle that never occurred. It is confusing certainly, but perhaps Zhang wished for his audience to get lost in the plot's design so that they would not question the warrantability of half of the battle sequences, which make up most of the film.
Yet, it is difficult to ponder these details when they are made so utterly insignificant when viewing such a spectacle. The sheer beauty of the battles, the gentle floating of the assassins as they fly around their arenas (which range from a forest full of orange leafed trees, crisp leaves falling down to the ground like rain, to the crystal clear and calm of a mountain lake), the costumes of characters at varying stages in the story line (red for passion, green for youth, white for truth, blue for love), the amazing army scenes which feature thousands of arrows being fired into the sky to create a black cloud that descends right on top of the camera, all these elements combine to produce a faultlessly perfect image on the screen, each frame a worthy photograph that gently reminds you why cinema is the greatest art form of the twentieth century.
And characterisation is not lost in this beauty as one may have feared. Despite the irritating two dimensional performance of Zhang Ziyi as Moon, the other actors carry off fine performances, especially Tony Leung Chiu Wai as Broken Sword and Daoming Chen as the King. Their performances are especially credible as they are often drowning in the memories of the King and Nameless - they need to change slight mannerisms in order to reflect whose mind they are now in.
The script too is of an impressively high standard. The moments of clarity that the warriors feel are experienced by the audience also, and there are some very informed outlooks of the emptiness of warfare, communicating that to achieve peace, sometimes war is the only option. These messages of course seem fitting in our current times, underlining how ancient some of the methods of our governing body truly are.
Hero is undoubtedly a most beautiful and awe inspiring film. What it lacks in plot substance, it makes up for with structure and script. It elaborates on the ground work created by 'Crouching Tiger' and is an experience that I would encourage you to seek out, as long as you are willing to submit to the film and let it guide you through its world on its own terms.
Although I enjoyed this film way better than "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon," I didn't enjoy it as much as "House of the Flying Daggers." I'm not a big fan of the far-fetched fighting sequences. I can go along with them to a point, but I can't not question how someone can fight off thousands of arrows with just the long sleeves of their outfit and not only survive, but without a scratch basically too. All that aside, I enjoyed the multiple versions told of one story. And the imagery was really beautiful at times.
Chinese flim makes love to make fast paced action films, and this is no exception. The stunt work is absolutely outstanding. The only thing which lets this film down is the acting, which is in my opinion, extreamly bad. There are some very long pauses in it almost looks as if the actors are waiting for a cue. Maybe it's the difference in cultures but I really don't understand it. Better buying with Jet Lee's Kiss of the Dragon.
The Hong Kong/ Chinese movie makers could teach Hollywood a thing or two. A wonderful story, with twists and turns, great characters, and need I say it since it stars Jet Li? Incredible action scenes, such complex fighting leaves the audience in awe. One of Jet Li's greatest movies to date.
it is fantastic to see asian movies making their way in to the western market, especially since now many holly wood movies are being made- adapted from a hong kong or korean script. hero is one movie worth watching, the cinematography is stunning and the actors, jet li in particular, are spectacular
This is one of the best films I've seen in a long time (since Lord of the Rings). The cinematography was awesome, and the story was even better. It had more twists and turns than a maze, but I never got confused. Now that's a first! The acting was wonderful, Jet Li as Nameless was perfect. Even if the fighting is corny, it doesn't matter. It's supposed to be that way. That's what these kind of movies are like. The fighting in this movie was even better than in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. A Beautiful Movie. A+++++++
Well ok, this is one of those movies that you kind of need a warning for. Because it has Jet Li in it you immediately think theres going to be a whole bunch of action scenes - which there is but not in the way that you would think. It has multiple storylines of love, honor and has a narrative that jumps backwards and forwards in time. Its a great drama but not the best kung fu movie, so it makes for a great date movie with romance for the girls and fight scenes for the guys.
I am a Jet li fan and i am also a true martial arts fanatic, having said that i would like to mention that i try not to be bias, i love this movie this movie is raw poetry and creative imagination in motion, you must embrace the substance of the story and understand the perception created for the ordiance then you must exercise creative thinking along with basic logic, right! there is the recipe to enjoy this movie, i have no complains and i would recomend that you view this yourself don't let anyone tell you about this experience.
as wonderful, stunning, creative movie this definitely on my classic list.
I loved this movie when I went to see it with my friends, however some of my friends didn't enjoy it at all and talked the whole way through (thankfully I didn't notice. I was too enthralled). As you can see from this experience, this movie is an aquired taste. You'll either love it or hate it.
This movie has beautifully cherographed fight scenes that seem more artistic than violent at times. The use of symbolism through colours is strange but celever. Ending is sad but the rest is good.
Definitely one for the movie collection.
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