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Hero (Ying Xiong) (2002)

  Directed by: Yimou Zhang
Written by: Feng Li, Bin Wang, Yimou Zhang
Starring: Daoming Chen, Maggie Cheung, Tony Leung Chiu Wai, Jet Li, Donnie Yen, Zhang Ziyi
Links: Hero on the IMDb, Buy on DVD, Buy the Soundtrack
Genre: Action

This movie gets: 8.00 (2 ratings) Ranking: Ranked equal 53rd of 187 movies (2 ratings minimum; see full chart)

Hero (Ying Xiong) (2002) is also mentioned in timchuma's review of Dragon Inn (1992), timchuma's review of House of Flying Daggers (2004) and pearly's review of House of Flying Daggers (2004).

""You liked Rashômon." "That's not how I remember it!"" - a review by timchuma

This movie tells the story of the first emperor of Qin and the assassins that went against him. What is important in this movie is not the story, but showing the different versions of events according to the perspective of the people telling them.

Nameless (Jet Li) tells how he dealt with the assassins Sky (Donnie Yen), Flying Snow (Maggie Cheung) and Broken Sword (Tony Leung Chiu Wai). The king has his doubts and gives his own version of events. What I liked about the way the story plays out is how it shows the different ways people view events, how they want people to see them, what other people think, and also what actually happened.

This movie is similar to The Emperor and the Assassin (1999), but it is presented in a very different way to that story. Special mention must go to the literally thousands of extras that the director had to manage in some scenes - not a frame of CGI in sight here.

I have to admit, one of the main reasons I wanted to see this movie is that Maggie Cheung stars and it has been ages since I have seen her. While the story and characters are great, the movie really belongs to Christopher Doyle, the cinematographer (and loveable old piss-head as I remember him from MIFF). The set and costume designers also deserve a medal.

On top of this, the score is magnificent. It was composed by the same person who did the soundtrack for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000). It is hard to tell them apart at some stages, but I don't think this detracts from the effect it has.

If you like historical dramas and epics I recommend seeing this movie. Something that has got my goat about the promotion of this movie (not only that it took Miramax two years to release it) is that they have the stupid tagline "presented by Quentin Tarantino", when he had squat to do with producing this movie.

timchuma gives this movie 8 out of 10.
Review created on Fri 18 Mar 2005

"Stylishly epic" - a review by pearly

The previews for Hero looked really great: all colour and drama and big epic styling. But there was one thing that annoyed me about them, and that thing was the recommendation from Quentin Tarantino, emblazoned on the screen in huge letters. As if we'd only deign to see a film from Hong Kong / China if it was endorsed by him. Bah!

That slightly irrelevant rant aside, Hero is a pretty awesome film. It's impossible not to compare it to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000), as the two have that similar visual appeal matched with the super-human samurai sword wielding warriors walking on water and such.

What's different about Hero is that it is based on an old Chinese legend; a story that has passed through the ages about a nameless warrior (Jet Li) who killed three of the King of Qin's (Daoming Chen) enemies. It's a story of perspectives, with the circumstances surrounding the killings being told over and over with new information included each time, Run Lola Run (1998)-style, leading ever closer to the truth.

Nameless first approaches Sky (Donnie Yen). They fight in the most beautiful of locations: an old open-ceilinged structure where men play board games, and it begins to rain as an old man plays a haunting tune on the shamisen (I think it's a shamisen, anyway... something like that). Nameless then moves on to a school of calligraphy, where he finds Broken Sword (Tony Leung Chiu Wai) and Flying Snow (Maggie Cheung). He fights with these lovers as well, and faces some opposition from Broken Sword's loyal servant Moon (the absolutely gorgeous looking Zhang Ziyi).

Nameless then visits with the King of Qin to drop off each of his adversaries' swords, as proof that the killing has occurred. It is here that the story is explained from one to the other, and this setting that is the basis for the flashbacks into the fights themselves.

Hero is beautifully put together, and quite a sight to watch. From the chess building to the calligraphy school, from the King's palace to the open deserts and forests where they fight, the style of it all takes your breath away. I also loved the little details of the piece, like the changing colours of the costumes for each re-telling of the tale. The two lead characters of Nameless and the King are great to watch with their larger than life personas, each second-guessing the other, and coming across as the most intelligent men ever to walk this earth - with super-human fighting moves to add to the deal.

jud described the film to andy-j as an epic along the lines of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001) and its sequels. I wouldn't go quite that far - I don't think it's of the same scale - but it's certainly got that feel to it. And I, for one, greatly enjoyed it.

pearly gives this movie 8 out of 10.
Review created on Thu 7 Oct 2004

Movie review statistics

Number of reviews: 2
Average rating: 8.00
Lowest rating: 8 (by timchuma, pearly)
Highest rating: 8 (by timchuma, pearly)
Rating Percentage

Reader comments

  1. Saw this a couple of days ago, it is definitely one of the prettiest movies I have seen. I think however, the relationship between Broken Sword and Flying Snow was what made me warm to the movie the most.

    Rating given: 9

    A comment from kim on Sat 06 Nov 2004 20:02 #

Those who have commented give this movie: 9.00 (1 rating)

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