Tuesday, March 04, 2003

Let's do another review, so that I bring my backlog down to one... let's talk about Hero.

As per usual, don't read this if you haven't seen it yet. SPOILERS AHEAD!!!

Jet Li stars as Wong Fei Hong... nah, I'm just playing. He stars as Nameless, a Chinese Governor who has defeated three great assassins who were after Shih Huang Ti: Sky, Falling Snow, and Broken Sword. As a reward, he gets to share tea with Shih Huang Ti at ten paces, and even gets gold and prime land for his efforts. He then regales the king of a story... how he managed to defeat the three great assassins, two of whom turned back an army of 3,000 people single-handedly... (Bah Gawd, so many exaggerations, but fun, nonetheless.)

The fighting scenes were arguably better than Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, and the entire layout of the film reminded my stepdad of Akira Kurasawa... not that I can relate. Loath that I am, I have never seen a Kurasawa film. You should've seen Falling Snow (Maggie Cheung...) and Nameless deflect all those arrows from the rooftop. They could've guaranteed victory to the Urukhai in LOTR: TTT had they been around. :laugh:

The battles were interesting, and it was pretty peculiar for me to see a metal spear, and even swords, bending around like that. But then, I guess I'm too used to rigid medieval implements...

But that's not all. After the story, Shih Huang Ti reminds Nameless not to underestimate someone: Shih Huang Ti himself. He knew that Nameless' story was no more than a lie, and the candles betrayed Nameless' murderous intent. He then retold the story as how he saw it, and this time, Moon (Zhang Zhiyi) did not have her peelaway clothes, unlike the first rendition. Neither did Broken Sword and Falling Snow actually know Sky. Much less did the AMAZING battle between Moon and Falling Snow happen. This time around, Shih Huang Ti asserts that the three assassins sacrificed their life to Nameless so he can get within ten paces of the Emperor and kill him. This is Nameless' technique: Death By Ten Paces. You should see how good it looked. Nameless then counters, leading to...

... a SECOND twist to the film! Sky, Falling Snow, and Broken Sword were NOT dead, simply because Nameless was skilled enough to stab them without actually killing them. See the movie again for how he demonstrated his precision. He then told the king what his plan was, and why Broken Sword wanted to stop him. The calligraphy element showed up yet again when Broken Sword explained the words "All Under Heaven". Even more so, you see here a flashback within a flashback. That was fun. Seeing two people beat up three thousand men was nothing short of amazing, and unlike the old Chinese Kung-Fu flicks, this one didn't involve multiple fighters waiting around. Turns out that Broken Sword refused to kill Shih Huang Ti when he had the chance.

In the end, with the recognition that Shih Huang Ti will make a great ruler for all of China, Nameless abandons the plan. This leads to a confrontation between the lovers Broken Sword and Falling Snow. Broken Sword loses the duel on purpose, along with his life, and Falling Snow commits suicide. Nameless was executed by archers, and surprisingly, he didn't try that arrow deflection trick he did. Looks like that was nothing more than codswallop.

Anyways, I loved the movie. Lots of elements were there, and the twists were really interesting. The fight scenes were top-notch, and let's face it: even if the Water fights seemed pretty unrealistic, it was, after all, a battle in the mind. For me, this film was actually better than Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. The simplest reason is this: in Hero, there was a Hero. Where were the Tigers and Dragons in the other film? Oh, right. They're Crouching, AND Hidden. :laughs:

Marcelle's Evaluation: A+

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