Wednesday, February 29, 2012

#562. Hero (2002)

Directed By: Zhang Yimou

Starring: Jet Li, Tony Leung Chiu Wai, Maggie Cheung

Tag line: "How far would you go to become a hero?"

Trivia:  Jet Li agreed to a pay cut so he could be in the movie

OK...time to break out the Thesaurus. I'm gonna need a ton of superlatives for this one! With 2002's Hero, director Zhang Yimou dipped his toes into the Wuxia subgenre, and crafted a movie that is stunning in every way imaginable. It is awe-inspiring.

In 3rd Century B.C. China, an unknown warrior (Jet Li) arrives at the palace of the King (Daoming Chen) to announce he has defeated the country's most notorious assassins, sending all to an early grave. These assassins; Sky (Donnie Yen), Snow (Maggie Cheung) and Broken Sword (Tony Leung Chiu Wai), have been the king’s enemies for some time, and he is pleased to hear they have finally been vanquished. 

But all is not as it appears, and his majesty may have another enemy to contend with, one much closer than he realizes.

Hero is an all-out attack on the senses, a barrage of sights and colors that never subsides. To single out one specific moment from the film as its ‘most spectacular’ would be an act of futility. The gorgeous images start within moments of the opening credits, and every time you think you’ve just seen the most amazing sequence, the most exhilarating battle, or the most picturesque locale, another comes along to stir your imagination all over again. 

Colors spill off the screen as if the edges of the frame lacked the strength to hold them back, yet in Hero, the palette does more than accent the movie's splendor. Director Zhang uses color to define emotion: sharp red for anger, deep blue for love, light green for serenity; bringing visual substance to that which you would normally only feel. 

The story itself, which features elements of love, deception, political intrigue, even war, is thoroughly engaging, and the action sequences are an hypnotic ballet of activity.

Bottom line? This is as marvelous a motion picture as the cinema could ever hope to achieve. With Hero, Zhang Yimou has created a true work of art, and an experience that is unrivaled.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Here is by far my favorite Martial Arts film of all time, even over Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon. I feel that the music, cinematography, and performances were truly breathtaking.