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Genre: Action
Rated: PG-13
Directed by: ZHANG YIMOU
Released by: Miramax Pictures
(Note: in Mandarin with English subtitles)

In Short: Do yourself a favor and see this visual feast in the theater. The art direction alone is worth the price of admission, both grander and subtler than anything that’s come before.

A New "Super" Hero!
Heroism Never Looked So Good

By Andrew Bender

Lots of films get by on astounding visuals, and in Hero the art direction alone is worth the price of admission, both grander and subtler than anything that’s come before. Warriors magically levitate, their extra-long robes leave contrails, swords cajole as well as slash, and clouds gallop across the sky as fast as horses. Yet director Zhang Yimou (Raise the Red Lantern, Shanghai Triad) has taken it to the next level, using these effects to tell a moving story with a startling end.

It may not capture you immediately; the first half hour may leave you wondering where it’s all going. Hero takes place during the Warring States Period, some 2,000 years ago, when the king of the Qin state attempted brutally to unify the seven territories now known as China. Amid it all, three invincible warriors—Snow (Maggie Cheung), Broken Sword (Tony Leung Chiu Wai) and Nameless (Jet Li)—challenge each other to ever-greater heights of swordplay. Bonds develop among the trio in a story told via flashbacks, with layers of bravery, deception and love.

Do yourself a favor and see this one in the theater. You’ll want to gasp as a sword splits a raindrop, to lose yourself in the ripple of a robe or expanse of desert, to catch every twang of the Chinese zither (it may do for the genre what mariachi guitar flourishes once did for spaghetti Westerns), to behold an entire army in uniforms the color and matte finish of a charcoal briquette.

Rest assured, though: it’s all in service of a deeply meaningful ending. We’re not going to give it away, but we haven’t been able to get it out of our minds

The kinds of movies made for foodies, including classics such as Like Water for Chocolate and newer releases like Chef and Ratatouille.

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