Directed by Zhang Yimou
Released By Edko Films
Firstly I was disappointed with Hero and overall it isn't as good a CTHD.
It is however very different form CTHD and more akin to Chen Kaige's The Emperor and the Assassin in scale and theme ...
It is a full blown art movie and don't let anyone tell you otherwise. After skirting around good simple fables Zhang Yimou goes back to what brought him all the attention from the west, beautifully filmed chinese flavour specific movie making.
You won't see a better looking martial arts movie and it is everything that the legend of Zu was to SFX in Martial arts ... hmmm perhaps that wasn't a good comparison ...
The film runs like Rashomon and follows the same plot/theme/ideals as the Emperor and the Assassin.
The Rashomon like storytelling technique found in many hollywood whodunnits causes Hero's overall structure to suffer because Hero isn't the type of story that works in that way.
Some may see this as a spoiler if so skip it but if you know what rashomon is like then I have already spoiled it for you so read on ...
Zhang Yimou hasn't failed with Hero its just that I always expect a lot from him in the same way I expect a lot from John Woo (but he would be a failure in my books). Zhang Yimou has always been a favourite of mine since seeing Ju Dou at an art cinema way back in 1990 and I have only ever been disappointed with To Live. Well now I can add Hero to that short list of Zhang Yimou disappointment especially after just seeing happy times which I loved.
It won't win any oscars and I doubt it will even be selected and I can now understand why Miramax has decided to release it in Nov 2003 ... they will definitely see it as another legend of zu failure and I can guess that their funding for chinese martial art movies will soon come to an end ...
Someone asked what the fights were like:
The fights in Hero are incredibly beautiful to look at but Yuen Woo Ping is the master and he wasn't hired to do this movie.
As well as being very different to CTHD Hero is also very different from The Emperor and The Assassin. The latter has a very complicated and seriously deep story, the former simplifies it to an extent where you can just switch off and marvel at what is onscreen.
Having had time to digest this movie over night I still feel my initial impressions of disapointment holds true. The general public in HK also feel the same and are queuing up in droves to see Harry potter 2 instead this christmas.