HERO US Theatrical Release Review

Discussion in 'Movies' started by Chuck Mayer, Aug 27, 2004.

  1. Chuck Mayer

    Chuck Mayer Lead Actor

    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2001
    Messages:
    8,189
    Likes Received:
    411
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Location:
    Northern Virginia
    Real Name:
    Chuck Mayer
    I did my job, and none of ther existing Hero threads seem fit for a review thread, so I'll start one. There *IS* a discussion thread already, so I'll roll any spoiler stuff into that thread.

    I had assumed that Hero was filmed during the relevant time period considering how long it sat on Miramax's shelf. That said, I do give thanks to Tarantino for allowing his name to be used in the marketing of a film he had nothing to do with in order to get it released without a rap soundtrack or a butchered edit job.

    I skimmed the discussion thread, and there is a wealth of political and philosophical discussion to come from interpretations of the film. I won't divulge any spoilers here, however.

    The film is essentially a fantastical look at some key events in the history of China, involving some incredible imagery and basic themes to tell a complex story quite simply. There is a significant amount of action, though in retrospect, it's merely the dessert. It's been a long time coming, and I am glad I took the opportunity to see it on the big screen. I had considered purchasing the R0 DVD, but never did. Hence, my theatrical viewing is my only one. I am also NOT terribly familiar with the major historical events in China, though the basis of the film does not require that the viewer be aware of these events. It might deepen some of the appreciation (or lack thereof), but I don't know.

    The film itself is just stunning. Initially, almost overwhelmingly so. It seemed so fantastic as to rival far more dreamlike films. But it was just growing pains for me. It all clicked about an hour in, and I'd wager a second viewing would work from the get-go. The color palette is second to none, the acting is simple and effective, and the direction is exceptional. I'd heard the score before (basically lifted from CTHD by it's own composer).

    I will give a paragraph to the fighting. I believe my favorite was actually the first sequence (and one of the last). It's energetic and graceful...almost surreal. I am not overly familiar with the wuxia genre, but the skill shown here is very admirable. To the film's credit...the scenes are creative and build to something more meaningful.

    In summary (though I've said precious little of the plot), this is a film deserving of a cinematic experience, for the beautiful technical aspects alone. I found a lot more to love about the film, but that's because there are some nice personal elements to it.

    Though the film is actually about 98 years old, it contributes to a wonderful year of films so far.

    9/10,
    Chuck

    Edit: A shout out to the absolutely luminous Zhang Ziyi [​IMG]
     
  2. Moe Maishlish

    Moe Maishlish Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 1999
    Messages:
    992
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0

    Wow! I didn't realize Jet Li was a senior citizen! [​IMG]

    I'm really looking forward to seeing Hero - I've heard great things from some of my friends who have already had the chance to see it elsewhere.

    moe.
     
  3. Adam_S

    Adam_S Producer

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2001
    Messages:
    6,307
    Likes Received:
    126
    Trophy Points:
    9,110
    Real Name:
    Adam_S
    Hero - [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]

    This is actually my second viewing of this film, and the second time it played as perfection. My first viewing was horribly marred by seeing an adequete DVD projected far beyond what it was probably ever meant for. the screen was only about 10 feet wide but on a display that's had no trouble playing Jaws or The Great Escape DVDs, the import we had gave it fits. There were major blocking issues on the yellow leaves, red gowns girls' fight, and the greensilk in the palace fight might as well have just been solid planes of color blocking off massive chunks of the screen. And the translation was only moderately good, this translation was an improvement though some idioms like "Golden Oppurtunity" struck me as very wrong while watching the film.

    Simply put I was mostly unimpressed with the film after seeing the DVD over a year and half ago. I thought of it as a weak martial arts answer to Rashomon.

    Well a course in East Asian society and cultures later and a second viewing of this complex and layered film and I'm completely blown away at how richly drawn and downright perfect this film is. It's almost as finely textured as Rashomon (loses points to that film for being a lot less subtle than Kurasawa--he could teach you things you never knew you were learning but would never forget). However this is as fine a piece of Chinese filmmaking as I've yet seen. Definitely makes me enthusiastic to get to Raise the Red lantern and Farewell my Concubine. [​IMG]

    Adam
     
  4. Edwin Pereyra

    Edwin Pereyra Producer

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 1998
    Messages:
    3,500
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Zhang Yimou’s Hero is the second U.S. import released theatrically this year to dazzle the senses. The first being The Saddest Music In The World from Canada.

    For the casual moviegoer, the political undercurrents that run through the U.S. cut of the film are self-evident. But beyond a cursory knowledge of Chinese history culturally, politically or otherwise and what was cut from the extended Chinese version, any deeper political undercurrents escapes me. But more importantly, those precious minutes cut from Yimou’s original intended version weakens the film as it may yet provide more historical background and subtext to its richly layered story.

    A very accomplished director, Zhang Yimou paints a moving picture filled with mysticism and poetic lyricism. The choice of color palettes, body movements, costumes, art and set decoration is a window towards beauty, grace, and artistic and philosophical expressionism.

    However, in the end, it is hard to analyze a film that is not whole in itself. But this version already scores points for its beauty, for its ability to mesmerize, and for its exceptional skill to be thoughtful where to categorize it simply as a martial arts film is almost a crime.

    ~Edwin
     
  5. Dave Hackman

    Dave Hackman Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2000
    Messages:
    173
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    This film didn’t impress me. I enjoyed CTHD much more for depth of story and better developed characters. I don’t mind flying around like peter pan if you are really kicking ass but these saps just point their stupid swords at each other and fly in slow motion. The backdrops of the flying bores are pretty to look at, but what’s next flying in outer space?

    The main characters are all underdeveloped and we never see their real skill since this story is told through flashbacks from Jet Li and the Emperor. I think the battles shown were so emotionless that the outcome didn’t really mater it was just a matter of fact.
    The picture overall is kind of grainy with a detached point of view. The big armies never felt real or menacing and all the flying arrows sounded great but didn’t give the impression of any real threat.

    Sound is the best thing I remember from this experience and it seems like a waste on such a one-time view flick.

    After this I don’t think I can handle another flying type martial arts movie without some real passionate fighting. I think the director was in love with himself and was more interested in fancy looks to actual substance.

    If I get the urge to see Jet Li in action, I will re-watch Fist of Legend, Twin Warriors or The Legend and not purchase this on DVD.

    D
     
  6. Yohan Pamudji

    Yohan Pamudji Second Unit

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2001
    Messages:
    491
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Depends what you're looking for I guess. Based on what I've read in another Hero discussion thread, if you're expecting an all-out brawl, prepare to be disappointed.
     
  7. Angelo.M

    Angelo.M Producer

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2002
    Messages:
    4,007
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    It's very difficult for me to write objectively about this film becuase Yimou's Raise the Red Lantern is, in my opinion, one of the very best films of the last 25 years and one of my very favorite films of all. He is one of my favorite filmmakers.

    Edwin's post hits the nail, eloquently and right on the head. I love this film; I loved it before this theatrical release and had a wonderful time seeing it again.
     
  8. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

    Joined:
    May 19, 2002
    Messages:
    12,060
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    First, Wong Kar Wai with Ashes of Time and then Lee Ang with his Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon have tackled the historical, action, martial arts, epic genre. Apparently all of the current serious, art-house, Chinese directors are required to make such a film, as Zhang Yimou gives us his entry with Hero, a very fine film of this, and indeed any, type.

    Like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (and unlike Ashes of Time), this film is very accessible by Western audiences. The stunning cinematography, the striking sets and seemingly straightforward flashback narrative provide a solid foundation for the choreographed fight scenes. And that this is truly a tragedy (in the classic Greek sense) means that a form that often seem enigmatic to Western audiences is not difficult to understand: in fact, most viewers will see what is coming within the first five minutes.

    But delightfully, for the audience, the plot has plenty of surprises along the way.

    I had purposely avoided reading the details in reviews before seeing this move and therefore did not know until the end credits that Christopher Doyle was the DP. But I was not surprised and perhaps could have guessed it to be the case, given much of his other work.

    Unlike Edwin, Angelo and others, I have not seen any other cut. While I will now seek out the Chinese version, I am pleased to have seen this in the theater for my first viewing.
     
  9. Angelo.M

    Angelo.M Producer

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2002
    Messages:
    4,007
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Lew, give a shout if you have any difficulty locating other versions of Hero (I suspect you won't). Let us know what you think.
     
  10. Dome Vongvises

    Dome Vongvises Lead Actor

    Joined:
    May 13, 2001
    Messages:
    8,172
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Score: A

    Loved it.
     
  11. Angelo.M

    Angelo.M Producer

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2002
    Messages:
    4,007
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I hope the success of this film generates a revisiting of Yimou's catalog on DVD. Raise the Red Lantern is my single most-wanted release.
     
  12. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

    Joined:
    May 19, 2002
    Messages:
    12,060
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0

    I have no idea as to the film’s success—but it opened in Dallas only in mainstream theaters (and quite a few of them). My wife and I went to probably the area’s best Cinemark and it was showing on their largest screen. The earliest showing on Sunday morning was about 75% full. The Dallas Morning News reviewer gave it full marks (an ‘A’), which I am sure did not hurt attendance.

    I was surprised that it was that full and that it was not showing at one of the art houses.

    I was going to write more, but perhaps it is more suited to the discussion thread.
     
  13. Angelo.M

    Angelo.M Producer

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2002
    Messages:
    4,007
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I don't usually snoop around the box office thread, but Lew's post inspired me, and I'm happy to report that Hero has an opening weekend estimate on the order of $17-18 million dollars according to the info there. No doubt that this represents some folks who are out to see the "new Jet Li movie," but, regardless, this is still a great showing.

    I really love this film. I'm only sorry that it took a year-and-a-half to have a chance to see it on the big screen after first seeing it at home.
     
  14. Edwin Pereyra

    Edwin Pereyra Producer

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 1998
    Messages:
    3,500
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    A very good film but I can still remain objective when analyzing the box office numbers. Note that this is the only film in the Top 10 that dipped from Friday to Saturday, while all the other nine had substantial gains.

    This tells me that word of mouth was not that positive from casual and mainstream moviegoers. Looks like a lot were expecting an all out chopsocky extravaganza rather than a meditative action drama.

    ~Edwin
     
  15. DavidGT

    DavidGT Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2002
    Messages:
    120
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0


    No no write more...please. Like how was the audience? I've read on IMDB that some theaters had trouble with youngsters and ghetto people heckling the movie to death.
     
  16. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

    Joined:
    May 19, 2002
    Messages:
    12,060
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    There was no audience heckling at the showing I attended. In fact, the audience was quite appreciative. There were not many youngsters at the showing I saw—I’m not sure what a ghetto person is, but as I saw this in the somewhat upscale north Dallas of Plano, it would have been surprising if they were there. We also went on a Sunday morning, which probably had something to do with the audience composition.

    A female colleague of my wife’s went with us (she is a big fan of tongue-in-cheek action movies (think Jackie Chan) and of comic book movies (Spiderman) but does not hit the art house circuit) and she was disappointed. She wanted some humor—but not a serious, contemplative story. She did think it a beautiful movie.

    Both my wife and I were blown away (but we see all kinds of movies, ranging from Spiderman to Kiss of the Spiderwoman).

    I expect that Edwin’s view may be correct—this is not getting very positive feedback from those who are expecting a straight, Hong Kong martial arts film, starring Jet Li (who according to a brief article I recently read, did the film for almost no pay).
     
  17. Edwin Pereyra

    Edwin Pereyra Producer

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 1998
    Messages:
    3,500
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0

    That is too bad and it is for the same reasons why some were disappointed with The Village. Oh well... Their loss, my gain on both counts. [​IMG]

    ~Edwin
     
  18. Angelo.M

    Angelo.M Producer

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2002
    Messages:
    4,007
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Crowd response was very positive at the showing we attended, which seemed to be primarily folks in my age range (mid 30s). It felt like an "arthouse crowd" in some ways, I suppose. The audience seemed to love it.
     
  19. Edwin Pereyra

    Edwin Pereyra Producer

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 1998
    Messages:
    3,500
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Another factor that contributed to the decreasing box office take over the weekend: In addition to the "Quentin Tarantino Presents" tagline, some people were caught off guard that the film was not in English.

    Lew, released in over 2,000 theaters, this one skipped the arthouse theaters and went straight to the multiplex in some areas. The crowd at my screening was also well-behaved.

    ~Edwin
     
  20. Lewis Besze

    Lewis Besze Producer

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 1999
    Messages:
    3,134
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    You just can't get over that can you?

    I definitelly wanna see this film,I have no particular expectations of any kind as I'm not familiar with this director.I only seen some footage on the "Ebert&Roeper at the movies" review,and it peaked my interest.As always I'll resreve my judgment till after I've seen it.
     

Share This Page