Their are many beautiful scenes in this movie. One scene shows the protaganist Nameless(Jet Li) and Broken Sword(Tony Leung) sword battling while jumping on water. Another scene consists of a city getting showered with arrows while a calligraphy school goes on with their daily tasks.
All this would mean little, however, if the movie didn't have a great story to back up the visually-exciting scenes. The story is mainly told through flashbacks as we see Nameless's journey of revenge to kill the Emperor. The story is brilliantly told and can be emotionally charging at times. Everybody in the film gives a great performance.
Even if one is not a fan of martial arts films, this film should still be given viewing. The film gives the audience great fight scenes, art house cinemetography, and a compelling story.
I do appreciate the stylized nature of thigns though, and see a lot of this as haunting and beautiful poetry, but it was hard for me to really get in the mood with people flying around. For all my bitching though, I have to give major props to the choreographers-this is some crazy stuff to do and do well. Our story concerns a man who supposedly killed three assassins. While telling his sotry to the king, the true nature of events begins to be revealed. In a way, it seemed like Rashomon to me, which is cool and warranted.
Li and the cast do a great job, and it is nice for me to see him in a non-American film as that is something I rarely get to experience. I am now feeling like I should see mroe films like this. The camera work, as stated above, is brialliant, and perhaps the best thing this film has going for it. This is a real feast for the eyes and ears, and the better screen and audio systems you have, the better this is. This is a film that deserves to be seen in a theater with state of the art technology. I'm bummed that I had to watch it on my tiny TV.
The music is just as sweeping and poetic as the visuals, and complements things nicely. The story, while good, is a bit muddled though, so you have to pay attention, whic h can be hard if you have to read subtitles. All told, this is an incredible and unique film, but it left me drained, but also wanting more. A little more coherence, and a little morew realism, and this would be a real masterpiece on all levels.
Hero is two sides of a tale as presented by Nameless (Jet Li), a mere Prefect who defeated three deadly assassins, and the King of Qin (Daoming Chen), the man the assassins wished to kill. Nameless weaves his heroic though modest story of how he killed the assassins, but the King remains unconvinced, spinning his own version of how he believed events unfolded.
Director Yimou Zhang takes us through Nameless' story first, spreading the battle sequences thick, allowing them to take their own time. In the King's version, certain battles are then revised, which is remarkably brave considering that some battles are utter fabrications. In one such fictitious fight, in a faultlessly designed set, Nameless and Sky (Donnie Yen) close their eyes and fight out the battle within their minds. Screen time is being spent lavishly on showing how two characters contemplated a fight, whilst fighting each other in a battle that never occurred. It is confusing certainly, but perhaps Zhang wished for his audience to get lost in the plot's design so that they would not question the warrantability of half of the battle sequences, which make up most of the film.
Yet, it is difficult to ponder these details when they are made so utterly insignificant when viewing such a spectacle. The sheer beauty of the battles, the gentle floating of the assassins as they fly around their arenas (which range from a forest full of orange leafed trees, crisp leaves falling down to the ground like rain, to the crystal clear and calm of a mountain lake), the costumes of characters at varying stages in the story line (red for passion, green for youth, white for truth, blue for love), the amazing army scenes which feature thousands of arrows being fired into the sky to create a black cloud that descends right on top of the camera, all these elements combine to produce a faultlessly perfect image on the screen, each frame a worthy photograph that gently reminds you why cinema is the greatest art form of the twentieth century.
And characterisation is not lost in this beauty as one may have feared. Despite the irritating two dimensional performance of Zhang Ziyi as Moon, the other actors carry off fine performances, especially Tony Leung Chiu Wai as Broken Sword and Daoming Chen as the King. Their performances are especially credible as they are often drowning in the memories of the King and Nameless - they need to change slight mannerisms in order to reflect whose mind they are now in.
The script too is of an impressively high standard. The moments of clarity that the warriors feel are experienced by the audience also, and there are some very informed outlooks of the emptiness of warfare, communicating that to achieve peace, sometimes war is the only option. These messages of course seem fitting in our current times, underlining how ancient some of the methods of our governing body truly are.
Hero is undoubtedly a most beautiful and awe inspiring film. What it lacks in plot substance, it makes up for with structure and script. It elaborates on the ground work created by 'Crouching Tiger' and is an experience that I would encourage you to seek out, as long as you are willing to submit to the film and let it guide you through its world on its own terms.
I've heard great things said about this film and I do think the swordsmanship and choreography were enjoyable, however, my preference of Martial Arts films is defintely a little more hands on, with plain raw talent, agility and fighting using the body.