- Zhang Yimou
- Reviewed by
- Gon Curiel a.k.a. Groucho
- Review date
- Monday, March 10, 2003
Historical facts of ancient China meet legendary treatment of tales of old in this story of conspiracy against the King of Qin (Daoming Chen), one of the seven kingdoms back in the days when China was not unified. A Man With No Name (Jet Li) has defeated three of the deadliest enemies of the King: Sky (Donnie Yen), Broken Sword (Tony Leung Chiu Wai) and Flying Snow (Maggie Cheung). The King has summoned this man and allowed him to get dangerously near him, which is a risk such man can only take with someone whoís proved to be on his side. The Nameless Man starts telling his tale, which we see in flashback. However, his version of the procedures just might not be completely true.
Hero is a magnificent Martial Arts/Asian Legend epic, with every ingredient to make it enjoyable: big scale effects, outstanding settings and cinematography, and haunting music (by Tan Dun). The performances are credible if not exactly great, but itís not the actorsí fault but the scriptís, for no character is more profound than one layer, two at best. Thatís a shame, especially for the main character, who could have and should have gone further in development. His motivations are unclear because we never really get to feel them coming from him. Still as I said, itís not really the actorsí fault; everyone does their best, to be sure.
Another problem of this film is that director Zhang Yimou, of The Road Home (1999) fame, attempted to create a sort of Rashomon (1950) meets Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000) experience, and wasnít successful in the aspects that made those films internationally successful classics. Thereís no poignant character study and the legendary treatment isnít exactly unforgettable. In fact, itís treated in such a way that it can be catalogued as a popcorn movie much easier, and thatís quite sad.
I donít think this film is completely unsuccessful however, but far from it. The Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)-like fights are still irresistible, the flying more moderate (not to say that I disliked it, but I know some people who had a problem with it), and the story somewhat fascinating, and credible, so the movieís good fun. Watch out for the first fight involving Nameless and SkyÖ Certainly one of Jet Liís brightest moments. And what about that army of arrows attack? Never saw anything like that before! Gorgeous Zhang Ziyi appears in a small role and delights as usual.
Overall, something unmemorable to check out for fun.
Gon C Curiel en Twitter | CriticSociety en Twitter | CriticSociety en Facebook
Share on Facebook | Share on Twitter
Other reviews of Hero (2002): Morris