Old 05-27-2003, 04:04 AM


My first thought, upon finishing this amazing new movie, starring Jet Li, Maggie Cheung, Tony Ching Siu Tung, Tony Leung Chiu Wai, and Zhang Ziyi, and helmed by veteran director Zhang Yimou, was quite simple.

"Holy SHIT. 23/10. No doubts about it, hands down, the greatest movie ever made."

After mopping up my drool, collecting my jaw off the floor, and giving it a second, more thought-out viewing maybe a day or so later, I was just as impressed, if not more. Well, minus the whole 23/10 thing. Armed with an impressive ensemble cast, sweeping, artistic cinematography, and Tan Dun's ornate, exotic backdrop of music, Hero is worth several jaw-dropping viewings.

Hero focuses on Nameless (Jet Li), a powerful swordsman who has just saved the current ruler of the Qing kingdom (Tony Ching Siu Tung) from three invincible assassins: Sky (Donnie Yen), Flying Snow (Maggie Cheung), and Broken Sword (Tony Leung Chiu-Wai). But why?

In a series of flashbacks and retellings reminiscent of the Kurosawa masterpiece Rashomon, Nameless' encounters with the three killers is picked apart, ultimately revealing what it truly means to be a hero.

Hero is obviously going to be compared to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, that OTHER critically-acclaimed martial arts movie, also made by a director who, until now, focused mainly on dramas. Zhang Yimou (Raise the Red Lantern, The Road Home) mixes his grand, broad photography with the fluid, classic choreography of Ching Siu-Ting (Duel to the Death), making each and every scene in this movie like a brilliantly-done painting, to be enjoyed and savored frame-by-frame until every last detail is soaked in.

For instance... in one of the movie's best action sequences, Nameless battles it out with Broken Sword atop a lake. Yes, you heard right. On top of a lake. However, that isn't it... both Nameless and Broken Sword are dressed in blue robes that match the water, and during their leaping-on-water duel, the stunning scenery is reflected into the lake, rippling and breaking apart as they rush over it, only to fade back into its original splendor as they leave.

This is probably the biggest amount of poetic nonsense anybody here has ever heard me spout... but I mean every bit of it. Hero is hardly the disappointment Crouching Tiger was, harking back to the days of the Shaw Brothers' classic kung-fu movies, mixing old-school wirework with some stylishly-executed CGI effects.

Hero gets an obvious 10/10 from me. While I gave The Matrix: Reloaded that same score, that was for style and entertainment value alone--Hero is a complete package of film, literary, and martial artistry that will be ONE HARD MOTHER to beat for generations to come.
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Old 05-27-2003, 05:18 AM
My problem with the film is that it essentially tells the same story three times with some variations.

When the story came out for the first time, I was totally into it. When it came for the 2nd time I really liked the new perspective to it. But when the third time came I was getting tired. I was tired of being told again that the characters were not really what we thought they were. I was tired of seing small variations of scenes I had already seen. I lost all emotional connection to the characters.

The first 60-70 minutes got a 8/10, but the third story felt more like 6/10. I didn't exactly get bored, but the thrill was gone and the film turned out to be only mildly interesting.

But I still recommend seeing it, since the first hour is really good, visually it's often *truly* stunning, music is superb, and the acting was good as well. Action was sometimes excellent, sometimes mediocre.

Still, the whole was less than a sum of it's parts.

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Old 05-27-2003, 04:16 PM
Good-enough way of looking at it.

All in all, the movie goes like this:

Jet Li- "This is what happened."
Emperor- "No, this is what really happened."
Jet Li- "You're close, but this is what really REALLY happened."

Some will love it, some won't... I'm in the boat that does.
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