Directed By: Yimou Zhang
Written By: Feng Li and Bin Wang
Ancient China was separated into seven different kingdoms. A king of the northern providence named Qin (Doaming Chen) has been subject to numerous assassination attempts. Some of China’s greatest warriors, including “Sky”(Donnie Yen), “Broken Sword” (Tony Leung Chiu-Wai), and “Flying Snow” (Maggie Cheung) have all made attempts and failed. Broken Swords failure is a subject of mystery as he had the chance to kill the king, and the question of why he let the Emperor live remains unanswered until the very end of the tale. Nameless (Jet Li) is a fearless warrior who has killed all three assassins and brought their swords to the Emperor demands the warrior to give a detail explanation of how he killed them all. In the discussion between king and warrior, stories are revealed, though truths and lies are mixed and hidden in between. Only in the end does the warrior let his true intentions become clear.
This is visually the most beautiful film I have ever set eyes on. The cinematography of this Hero will leave you breathless. Christopher Doyle had a beautiful vision of this majestic world and made a creation that even most dreams lack the power and imagination to create. As far as martial arts films go this could very well be considered my favorite. The complex story of many different individuals and how their lives play into one another engages you into the stories overall feeling of despair, but it’s the magical feel of the film and it’s amazing scenery make this epic tale a piece of mastery.
The supernatural skills of the characters send them almost floating across the sky, giving them the abilities to jump enormous distances, and even fight off an entire armies archers that’s arrows darkened the day lit sky. The skills of two of our heroes block the majority of these arrows as though they were dancing with them. The grace and elegance of the martial arts in this movie allow the viewer to really sit back and take everything in while an enticing soundtrack plays in the back round.
The distinct colors for each part of the story defined the exact feel for each scene and character. That combined with the amazing flowing costumes by Emil Wada only enhance the already intoxicating visuals. The films melancholy theme with large expansive back round locations make this film feel larger than life, but also carry a certain sense of dread. The most stunning scene in the film is the autumn battle where yellow is set as the back round and contrasting is blood red, the color our battling heroes wear.
The actors were secondary pieces to an already very complete story, with the cinematography shining as the star of the film. But the performances by Tony Leung Chiu-Wai, Maggie Cheung, Zhang Ziyi as Moon, Chen Dao Ming, and Donnie Yen were a beautiful ensemble cast that all played brilliantly off one another.
Hero is an amazing film to watch and enjoy, not just visually, though it’s beauty is overwhelming in it’s scope. It also had a great deal of heart and emotion inside it’s extraordinary outer shell. This film may not appeal to everyone, but it certainly worth the time to sit down and watch at least once. In my eyes, it’s a masterpiece. Hero earns Four out of Four stars.