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Hero
BLU-RAY disk
Sep 23, 2009 By: J.A. Hamilton
Hero order
Director:
Zhang Yimou

Actors:
Jet Li
Ziyi Zhang
Tony Leung

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
A nameless warrior conceives a plot to kill a King by defeating his three greatest enemies and bringing proof of their demise to trade for an audience that will bring him within ten paces of his target (a rare honor). Close enough, to deliver a skillful deathblow.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
This is the first time Ive watched HERO since it came out back in 2004, and Im embarrassed to admit that Id forgotten how unbelievably magnificent this film is. Before we get into that however, I feel it necessary to acknowledge how lucky we are to be able to experience this display of Asian culture. Films like this one are abundant in Asia, but have only recently (the past ten years or so) surfaced in a mainstream fashion with budgets large enough to paint such a breathtaking work of art. I, personally, am moved by this level of cinematic genius, feeling as though the combination of so many brilliant elements gives me a heightened sense of my surroundings, be it every so briefly.

Director Yimou Zhangs eye for detail is astounding, and is only accentuated by the limitless potential of Blu-ray technology. I felt bathed in the rich color scheme, whos ebon flow all but jumps out of the screen. The landscapes are so alive with detail and beauty, you can almost feel the wind in your hair or beads of water on your skin. Again, this film invokes the use of all your senses, from Tan Duns haunting score to Christopher Doyles amazing cinematography. Now combine those efforts with a flawless cast of professionals and prepare to have your breath taken away. The underlining themes of unity, peace, war, sacrifice and honor all play a vital role of their own, which is wonderfully reinforced by the fascinating addition/use of calligraphy.

The story is flawless and cuts like the sharpest blade. The concept of Lis character being honored for his feats by gifts as well as the opportunity to get closer to his King was a clever setup. Lis plan was well thought out, and executed with a masters skill. I loved the many forms of the truth conveyed through some of most pristine, elegant, and down right jaw dropping battle sequences Ive ever seen captured on film. Words cant properly describe the dance of blades between the Nameless One, Sky, Broken Sword, Flying Snow and Moon. These are some of the worlds greatest martial artists, who also happen to be quite fluent in the art of weaponry (do you have any idea how difficult it is to fight THAT WELL with a spear or polearm). The energy and passion generated by this amazingly talented cast is unrivaled in my books.

HERO is a movie I was bound to enjoy no matter what. Im a HUGE Jet Li fan (and Im also a touch in love with Ziyi Zhang), and absolutely love ALL his movies, both foreign and domestic. I wasnt even bothered by the fact this flick contains subtitles, in retrospect, I feel that any other way would have severely cheapened the experience. And man does this already kickass presentation soar to new levels on Blu-ray! This is definitely a film to be viewed in HD. I wasnt overly enticed the ending (which I wont spoil as this flicks not very old), but in all fairness it does go hand in hand with this films thematic elements so I cant say Im disappointed. This picture is such a pleasure to behold, and I cant stress enough how important it is for you to see it at least once.
THE EXTRAS
Close-Up of a Fight Scene: Some of the cast (along with Quentin Tarantino) give us a bit of insight into some of these gorgeous fight sequences. The chess-court fight is a rematch for Li and Donnie Yen, having battled before on the set of ONCE UPON A TIME IN CHINA 2 (also a fantastic martial arts flick).

Hero Defined: A look into the making of HERO. Director Zhang Yimous lifelong passion was to create an epic swordsman movie, and having been a martial arts fan all his life certainly helped make it happen. He has every reason to be proud of this film.

Storyboards: Here we have four storyboard fight sequences that play alongside the actual film sequence for a look at the evolution of each scene. These battles were amazing, the chess-court battle alone took two weeks of filming.

Inside the Action: A Conversation with Quentin Tarantino and Jet Li: One of the things I love most about Jet Li is how laid back and nice a guy he is, always so happy and polite. You can also tell Tarantino has a deep sense of respect for Li on both a professional and casual level.

Soundtrack Spot: A short commercial for the original motion picture soundtrack of HERO. You rarely see such a wondrous balance between music and fighting. There is also a DIGITAL COPY of the film.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
Yes, this film is an exhibition of martial arts and swordplay, a foreign affair, consisting of subtitles and many foreign elements. Its also a compelling story about love, trust, honor and valor. But none of these things will matter to you if youre not a fan of the genre. I wont hold it against you if youre not, but for those of you who are, Christmas came early!

Extra Tidbit: My favorite Jet Li flick? THE ONE. You cant go wrong with Jet Li VS Jet Li. I just hope his presence in THE EXPENDABLES is substantial and not just another face.
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