Critic Consensus: With death-defying action sequences and epic historic sweep, Hero offers everything a martial arts fan could ask for.
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Critic Reviews for Hero
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.
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.
The austerity of Hero makes you realize how cluttered other action movies are.
The result is both thrilling and thoughtful, offering imaginative action sequences as it considers questions of loyalty and the individual's role in history.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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