Hero (2002) starring Jet Li, Tony Chiu Wai Leung, Maggie Cheung, Ziyi Zhang directed by Yimou Zhang Movie Review

Hero (2002)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Hero (2002) starring Jet Li

The Heroes Got the Look

Before China became one unified country it was a feudal place. Nameless (Jet Li), a warrior who was never given a name, is called before the King to tell him how he killed three assassins who had been hired to kill the king. Nameless tells of how he went about killing Long Sky (Donnie Yen), Broken Sword (Tony Leung) and Flying Snow (Maggie Cheung) but the king counters with his version of what really happened.

"Hero" is not a bad movie but it is a movie which didn't do it for me in the same sort of way "Avatar" didn't do it for me. You see "Hero" is visually stunning and I doubt there is a single person on the planet who would disagree when it comes to how the movie looks but from a storyline point of view it is lacking. We watch as the stories of Nameless' heroics are recounted followed by the King's version and then we move on. Now there is a message to all of this and one which has to be said is unfashionable in today's climate but again it isn't great. In many ways the trouble with "Hero" is that it is not plot driven but the plot is there to tie together Zhang's creative vision.

So as to that vision; well we have is what modern cinema is lacking and that is the spectacle of scale, the sight of thousands of extras moving in formation for battle in the desert. From a cinema purist's point of view this epic nature is simply glorious especially when compared to so many movies which purely rely on CGI. This sense of scale then works well with Zhang's choice of set colours to give the movie its set parts and in doing so doesn't become too artsy and up itself.

Of course on top of this is the action with that wire work which makes impossible martial arts skills possible and as always it adds to the movies impressive nature. It is like visually it is impossible to criticize "Hero" and if all you cared about was how a movie looked you would be blown away. But for me the narrative lets it down as although it has some twists and turns it is still not enough to be what drives the movie.

What this all boils down to is that I can understand why there are many who are blown away by "Hero" purely on a visual level it is a glorious movie, one of the most impressive I have even seen. But the narrative for me is an issue and I found myself wanting more than what was offered.