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Sweeping and sumptuously-shot martial arts action film in the vein of Ang Lee's 'Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon'. In Ancient China, the Emperor of the northern province of Qin (Daoming Chen) is under constant threat of assassination attempts. Three assassins in particular are the cause of much fear in the palace: Broken Sword (Tony Leung Chiu Wai), Sky (Donnie Yen) and Flying Snow (Maggie Cheung). When a minor local official (Jet Li) comes to the palace to relay the information that he has managed to overcome the three adversaries, the Emperor invites him to tell the story of his incredible victory.
Director Zhang Yimou brings the sumptuous visual style of his previous films (Raise the Red Lantern, Shanghai Triad) to the high-kicking kung fu genre. A nameless warrior (Jet Li, Romeo Must Die, Once Upon a Time in China) arrives at an emperor's palace with three weapons, each belonging to a famous assassin who had sworn to kill the emperor. As the nameless man spins out his story--and the emperor presents his own interpretation of what might really have happened--each episode is drenched in red, blue, white or another dominant color. Hero combines sweeping cinematography and superb performances from the cream of the Hong Kong cinema (Maggie Cheung, Irma Vep, Comrades: Almost a Love Story; Tony Leung Chiu-Wai, In the Mood for Love, Hard Boiled; and Zhang Ziyi, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon). The result is stunning, a dazzling action movie with an emotional richness that deepens with every step. --Bret Fetzer
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Top Customer Reviews
The plot? A lowly official (Jet-Li) is brought before the Emperor to be rewarded for killing three martial-arts experts who had previously attempted to assassinate the ruler; Sky (Donnie Yen), Broken Sword (Tony Leung) and Flying Snow (Maggie Cheung). The Emperor invites him to describe just how he managed to kill all three when his own army had failed. We then see in flashback the fights that took place, but the Emperor is dissatisfied with the explanation and offers his own interpretation...
This film is a visual work of art. The style is like to Crouching Tiger in that the abilities of the characters are beyond reality - they can fly through the air and walk on water - a wuxia film, but this has been taken to epic proportions - including using the Chinese Army as extras firing thousands of arrows into the sky! Colour is of particular importance here - as most of the fights are shown in flashback and are revisited to show another perspective, the characters and scenery are colour-coded and change with each version. The soundtrack too, from Tan Dun and Itzhak Perlman, is very haunting and memorable.
The director went on to direct House of Flying Daggers after this which is also a visual treat. That film seems to get more attention but out of the two, whilst I like them both, I would actually put this one first as, to me, Daggers seems to run out about two-thirds through whereas the non-linear narrative in this film keeps the interest in the story going. Try it and see.
Finally, in this edition, you can select to watch a dubbed version - instead of with subtitles if they're not your thing.
You just can't take your eyes off the screen from start to finish. It's astonishingly beautiful. Colour, texture, design, nature, calligraphy, movement, dance - everything ravishes the senses. And it has Ziyi Zhang in it. Enough said.
But there's more than visuals. A delicious, complex, fluid plot with plenty intrigue and mystery. The play on the idea of truth and reality versus storytelling, keeps us alert and striving to keep up.
Then there's the use of sound. The fight scene with the dripping water and the koto - the sounds will stay with me for life.
The martial arts scenes are really very good. But perhaps the calligraphy scenes are even better?
I found the ending a little hard to understand. Perhaps it was not the strongest part of the film - unsure.
I can watch this one again and again.
At least 4 and 1/2 stars.
Jet Li plays a nameless warrior who presents to the Emperor of Qin the weapons of the three greatest assassins. All of who had sworn to kill him. We are taken on a trip through the stories of the Nameless and how he killed the three assassins. And then once again when the emperor tells us his interpretation of what he perceives happen. Ever perception of the story has its on emotions, visually displayed by its own primary color. The filming is also epic; they were able to use the Chinese army to fill in as extras for the emperor's army.
The conflict shows us the emotions involved with what that emperor was trying to do; unite the seven provinces under one rule. It does delve into both side's reasons and how one person's assassin is another's hero. And what we learn is both sides of any conflict have its heroes. But the main theme this movie tries to get across is that it is a great hero who thinks of his land before his own desires.
For the martial artist we are treated to Jet Li and Donnie Yen fighting each other. It is a wonderful fight. And I hope we do not have to wait years to see them paired up again. This fight alone is worth watching the movie for.
After I swapped my House of Flying Daggers DVD to Blu Ray I was very upset with the upscale to High Def and as Hero was the only one left of this type of film I wanted on Blu Ray I feared the worst. However i can bring you great news that the picture quality in High Def is jaw droppingly beautiful and great sound to match.
Subtitles in English, French & Spanish, Audio DTS 5.1-HD English
The perfectly-picked cast from Jet Li, Tony Leung, Maggie Cheung, Zhang Ziyi and Donnie Yen all show that they've got excellent acting talents (especially Jet Li and Maggie Cheung) while also showing that they've also got tremendous physique and awesome martial artistry too. The story wonderfully flows along with the soothing soundtrack, beautiful colourisation (blues, reds, greens, oranges) and epic set-pieces. Now, the breath-taking action set-pieces is what this film is all about...from Jet Li's encounter with Sky (Donnie Yen) to the splendid grand finale with the Emperor, the action never stops with its fluent sword-fighting, effortless flying techniques (that looks almost as better than Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) and awe-inspiring visual-FX that looks gorgeous to watch on-screen.
Presented by Quentin Tarantino (Kill Bill Vol. 1 & 2) and loved by critics everywhere, this is a stupendously enjoyable and immensely unforgettable epic fable which will be loved by audiences for years to come.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The picture draws you into an ethereal space, almost dream-like. It is very atmospheric. Amazingly portrayed. This is my second copy!Published 7 days ago by Rosemarie Barber
Love this film! Had it on dvd, decided to get upgrade and get blu ray. The picture and sound excellent, dvd now gone to charity shop, no comparison with the picture.Published 19 days ago by LAH
Quentin Tarantino Presents: Hero [DVD]  In truth, I'm not normally a massive fan of this director, but love the chinese martial arts genre. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Sam
Hero is a beautiful tale of honour, deception and revenge fused together with martial arts.Published 4 months ago by Leigh RybakRajewski
Awesome is not enought to describe this brilliand awe-inspiring film. A fantastic experience and exceptional piece of visual art.Published 4 months ago by SteveB.