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Hero (2004)



Average Rating: 8.2/10
Reviews Counted: 200
Fresh: 189
Rotten: 11

Critics Consensus: A sumptuous movie that'll excite your eyes if not your heart.

Average Rating: 8.2/10
Reviews Counted: 45
Fresh: 45
Rotten: 0

Critics Consensus: A sumptuous movie that'll excite your eyes if not your heart.


Average Rating: 3.7/5
User Ratings: 247,516


Movie Info

Hero is two-time Academy Award nominee Zhang Yimou's directorial attempt at exploring the concept of a Chinese hero. During the peak of their Warring States period, China was divided into seven kingdoms all fighting for supremacy. Most determined to dominate China was the kingdom of Qin, whose king (Chen Daoming) was wholly obsessed with becoming the first emperor of China. Though he was an assassination target for many, none of his would-be killers inspired as much fear as the legendary … More

PG-13 (for stylized martial arts violence and a scene of sensuality)
Drama , Action & Adventure , Art House & International , Classics
Directed By:
Written By:
Yimou Zhang , Li Feng , Bin Wang
In Theaters:
Nov 30, 2004
Box Office:
Miramax Films - Official Site


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Critic Reviews for Hero

All Critics (200) | Top Critics (45) | Fresh (189) | Rotten (11) | DVD (42)

As they move through the martial-arts sequences, the performers leave the impression that the laws of gravity are subject to amendment. The rules of love and war -- all's fair -- are, Hero makes clear, immutable.

Full Review… | March 18, 2014
Wall Street Journal
Top Critic

The result is not so much a historical epic as a kind of highly determined ballet: dreamy with bloodless violence, relying less on shades of character than on magnificence of gesture.

Full Review… | August 5, 2013
New Yorker
Top Critic

The austerity of Hero makes you realize how cluttered other action movies are.

Full Review… | August 5, 2013
Top Critic

The result is both thrilling and thoughtful, offering imaginative action sequences as it considers questions of loyalty and the individual's role in history.

Full Review… | August 5, 2013
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

As a technical achievement, Hero finds Zhang at the height of his powers, effortlessly expanding into complex genre filmmaking without losing his command. But in light of his earlier work, the film continues a sharp decline in urgency.

Full Review… | August 5, 2013
AV Club
Top Critic

Dishes up some of the most extravagant doodling in cinema.

Full Review… | June 24, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

What makes Hero special is that it has so much more going for it than just the superb fight sequences. There are a satisfyingly complex plot, passionate romance, cool special effects and strong performances.

Full Review… | August 5, 2013
People Magazine

Sumptuous and breath-catching, Hero blends the elegance of fine visual art with the more familiar cinematic jollies of attractive people engaged in crunching punch-ups.

Full Review… | August 5, 2013
Total Film

Zhang Yimou's Hero is a true martial arts epic -- a spectacle of movement, color and sound that will leave you awe-struck.

Full Review… | August 5, 2013
Metro Times (Detroit, MI)

Intoxicatingly beautiful, structurally enigmatic and decidedly brief.

Full Review… | August 5, 2013
Screen International

Gorgeous martial arts movie for older kids.

Full Review… | January 2, 2011
Common Sense Media

Zhang weaves a complex and interesting story but the ultimate strength of Hero is its poetic beauty.

Full Review… | September 27, 2009

When we are not left agog by the pristine production design and costuming, we marvel at the various staged conflicts, each one bringing a new level of proficiency and polish to an already overripe genre.

Full Review… | September 17, 2009

A visually stunning martial arts epic in the wuxia tradition.

Full Review… | October 18, 2008
Big Picture Big Sound

Without the clarity of story, we begin to lose connection with the martial action, and it starts to seem repetitive.

Full Review… | October 18, 2008
Urban Cinefile

This intriguing, intoxicating martial-arts epic about the unification of China during the third century B.C. is a visual masterpiece.

Full Review… | August 7, 2008
Sacramento News & Review

... one of the best films of its kind and one of the most beautiful films ever made.

Full Review… | July 4, 2008

In what may be the movie's most spectacular set piece ... Zhang pits the sword against the pen and fends off war with knowledge and non-violence.

Full Review… | June 3, 2008
Paste Magazine

Better experienced than discussed -- and better seen two or more times.

Full Review… | September 17, 2007

While consistently watchable, Yimou's movie is infused with a dirge-like tone...making it a somewhat wearisome and sluggish experience

Full Review… | August 26, 2006
Cinema Writer

Audience Reviews for Hero

While I wasn't very much engaged in the story, what really got to me were the insane battle scenes, scenery and overall style of the film. Worth watching.

Wildaly M

Super Reviewer


I may not be a giant fan of wuxia, but I can appreciate an insanely detailed & stunningly beautiful film. Narratively speaking, it isn't the most engaging of films. However, it is an exercise in lavish cinematography in which Christopher Doyle does not disappoint. From the fight scene on the lake to the battle in the palace, one cannot help but be swept up in the exquisite color schemes & the stirring shot compositions.

Reid Volk

Super Reviewer

A lone warrior enters the palace of his emperor and tells the tale of how he defeated the three most feared assassins in the land. The most obviously striking element of Hero is its sheer visual beauty as it is packed to brimming with stunning costumes, colours and sets and uses the same kind of graceful wirework that we encountered in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. The fight choreography is also beautifully executed making for a very poetic martial arts film. Although clearly languishing in the back seat of Zhang Yimou's concept, the plot is actually a rather interesting hybrid of Rashomon and The Usual Suspects which adds a different twist to the usual "heroic warriors making noble sacrifices" formula of this type of thing. Because Zhang is so concerned with the visuals, the flashback format does mean that we don't really get enough time to get to know the protagonists which means there's little in the way of emotional involvement but as a sheer visual spectacle, Hero is second to none.

xGary Xx

Super Reviewer

Inspired by the assassination attempt on the King of Qin in 227 BC, Hero is a visual, emotional, social, and political triumph that overwhelmingly marvels with rhythmic movements, metrical narrative, and picturesque cinematography amplified by a palette of contrasting colors. Overwhelming.

Jan Marc Macababayao
Jan Marc Macababayao

Super Reviewer

Hero Quotes

Martial arts and music share the same principles. Both wrestle with complex chords and rare melodies.
– Submitted by Frances H (13 months ago)
The King of Qin:
What words did Broken Sword write?
Our land.
– Submitted by Typhon Q (2 years ago)

Discussion Forum

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