Directed by: ZHANG YIMOU
Starring: : JET LI, CHEN DAOMING,
MAGGIE CHEUNG, TONY LEUNG CHIU WAI, DONNIE YEN,
Released by: Miramax Pictures
(Note: in Mandarin with English
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
New "Super" Hero!
Heroism Never Looked
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
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.