Hero

2004

Hero

Critics Consensus

With death-defying action sequences and epic historic sweep, Hero offers everything a martial arts fan could ask for.

95%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 205

87%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 249,325
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Hero Photos

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 assassins Broken Sword (Tony Leung), Flying Snow (Maggie Cheung), and Sky (Donnie Yen). In hopes of thwarting his death, the king has promised endless wealth and power to anyone who defeats his would-be murderers. No results come until ten years later, when a man called Nameless (Jet Li) brings the weapons of the three assassins to the Qin king's palace. Nameless claims to be an expert swordsman who had defeated Sky and destroyed the famed duo of Flying Snow and Broken Sword by using their love for one another against them. Once Nameless comes face to face with the king, however, it looks as if the situation is more complicated than he had thought. Also featured in Hero is actress Zhang Ziyi (The Road Home, Crouching Tiger, Hiden Dragon) as Broken Sword's devoted servant, Moon.

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Cast

Jet Li
as The Warrior
Tony Leung Chiu Wai
as Broken Sword
Maggie Cheung
as Flying Snow
Daoming Chen
as King of Qin
Donnie Yen
as Long Sky

News & Interviews for Hero

Critic Reviews for Hero

All Critics (205) | Top Critics (48) | Fresh (194) | Rotten (11)

  • Until the final 15 minutes of its deceptively short hour-and-a-half running time, Hero is a marvel, one of the best films to be released in the United States this year. It concludes, however, on a note both emotionally unsatisfying and morally idiotic.

    Jan 5, 2018 | Full Review…
  • 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.

    Mar 18, 2014 | Full Review…
  • 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.

    Aug 5, 2013 | Full Review…
  • The austerity of Hero makes you realize how cluttered other action movies are.

    Aug 5, 2013 | Full Review…

    David Edelstein

    Slate
    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.

    Aug 5, 2013 | Full Review…
  • 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.

    Aug 5, 2013

    Scott Tobias

    AV Club
    Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Hero

  • Aug 15, 2017
    Hero is a visually arresting martial arts classic. It's not often I say "classic" for this genre, there are certain milestones. Much like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon back in 2000, Hero became popular in western audiences due to its easy accessibility and minimal dialogue. This film is absolutely gorgeous. One of THE most beautiful, stunning, majestic cinematic pieces ever conceived. The use of colour is so extraordinary that me attempting to describe it won't do it justice. Whole scenes are built on colours. Costumes, production design, the environment...all based on one colour. An example would be the fight scene in the woods where all the leaves and trees are autumnal, the costumes are shades of red. Then later on in the scene, the shades of yellow and brown transition to red seamlessly and it is just so damn beautiful. If a scene takes place in a desert then everything is presented as yellow. How about in the King's palace? The interior design, armour and costumes are black. It's not even subtle, so you will notice it but it's entrancing and makes the experience ever so hypnotising. The film is about a Nameless warrior retelling his eradication of three assassins to the King, but not everything is as clear as what he says it is. It's an intriguing narrative, if I were to dive into it it would spoil the plot. But there is a point where we have a flashback within a flashback (flashbackception?) so that should give you a clue regarding the linearity of the plot. Important themes are explored such as the similarities between idealism and love, how one can kill or be willing to die for an ideal or love. Excellently acted by Tony Leung and Maggie Cheung, two assassins who are embroiled in a complicated love affair. Donnie Yen and Jet Li are there to provide the amazing action. A martial arts classic is not without its action, and Hero is damn full of it. The choreography is rapidly insane...how can anyone comprehend the speed at which these guys fight is beyond me. Just...watch this. Please, it's so good.
    Luke A Super Reviewer
  • Nov 22, 2013
    A beautiful masterpiece, Hero is a compelling martial arts film with a powerful message. After defeating the land's three most deadly assassins prefect Nameless is brought before the Emperor to collect the reward, but first he must convince the Emperor that the tale of his victory is true. Starring Jet Li, Ziyi Zhang, and Daoming Chen, the performances are especially good. And the fight choreography is amazing, doing an incredible job of developing unique styles for each of the fight sequences. Additionally, the visual aesthetic does an impressive job at conveying the metaphoric and spiritual aspects of the storytelling. Hero is an inspired film about sacrifice and honor that's extraordinarily well-crafted.
    Dann M Super Reviewer
  • Jul 12, 2013
    Phenomenal scenery and sequences. The director does an amazing job of setting up a lot of these scenes, creating a beautiful film. I've never seen a film quite like this. In some ways, this reminds me of the Clint Eastwood "Man with No Name Trilogy." I know it's strange but I can't help but get that feeling to some extent. Anyway, this movie is just a fantastic work of cinematography, and absolutely worth checking out.
    Stephen S Super Reviewer
  • Mar 23, 2013
    The metaphorical use of colors enhances the emotion of each "chapter" of the film while telling the audience exactly what the tone of each is as well.
    Jason 123 D Super Reviewer

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