The Movie Hero

Okay, I know that it is ShortSpeedFreak’s job to post movie reviews,
but after watching Hero last night I felt compelled to post one for all
of you to read.  Most of you know me as being a picky film (not
movie) watcher and critic, and so you know that it is rare when I say
that a movie is excellent.  It is also hard for a movie to make it
to Stephen’s to 10, but Hero has managed to do both.

This film is about the first Emperor of China, three assassins and one
hero, played by Jet Li.  Hero was released in China two years ago, was
release on DVD and VHS in the United States roughly a year ago, but due
to Jet Li’s popularity they decided to formally release it in theatres
this year.  It is director Zhang Yimou’s first action film, but even
with his inexperience with action films his Wire Fu is on par with
Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon.  The combat scenes are beautifully
choreographed and exciting.  The dialog and acting are supurb with lots
of depth to each character.  Yimou’s cinematography is phenomenal,
whether it is the shots of the desert or of an army of thousands (all
extras, not CGI) standing in the Forbidden Palace.  They did a
wonderful job with the costumes (yes Mallorn, there are pretty dresses)
making all of them seem like they fit the time period.

Even with all of that, the thing that I felt was far and away the most
amazing thing about the entire movie was Yimou’s use of
color.   When people were discussing events that happened in
the past it felt like the the movie have moved itself into a dye
factory (with a couple of exceptions).  Each use and change in
color, or the lack there of, is diliberate and pefectly executed. 
The battle in the trees during fall and the recall of an assassination
are breath taking.

If you like action flicks, you will like this movie.  If you like
an interesting plot with lots of little turns, you will like this
movie.  If you like pretty dresses, you will like this
movie.  If you like beautifully layed out and well thought out
films, you will love Hero.

8 Responses to “The Movie Hero”

gee, I’d post a comment here, but since you read it to me verbatim last night, I don’t have anything left to say 😉

mallorn - September 1st, 2004 at 9:37 pm

Despite some other reviews that have said it’s so formalized it’s almost sleepy, I *really* want to see this movie… Maybe my Dad will want to go, too…

Good review, Stephen! Feel free to do all you want– heck, if you and ShortSpeedFreak both did them, it would be a great: either opinions on different movies, or different viewpoints on the same one.

Paradoxdruid - September 1st, 2004 at 10:24 pm

Because not too many people who aren’t die-hard Jet Li fans would pick up a straight-to-DVD, un-hyped movie off the local Blockbuster shelf. But lots of people saw and loved Crouching Tiger, and they’ll go see this in theatres, too, now that they know it exists.

Owen - September 4th, 2004 at 5:48 pm

I really want to see Hero . . . I bet I’d feel the same way about it. On a sidenote, sort of, I read an interview with Jet Li in which he expressed his concern that the movie might not do very well since it was released in the US on DVD and VHS so long ago. But, impressively, it was number one at the box office its opening weekend. It’s also impressive that American audiences were that willing to sit through subtitles.

ShortSpeedFreak - September 4th, 2004 at 4:00 pm

Has this director made any movies that I’m likely to have seen?

ShortSpeedFreak - September 6th, 2004 at 11:52 am

Well, I just hope that Hollywood takes the hint that American audiences are truly capable of accepting things with more substance than “Dodgeball” or “White Chicks.” Admittedly, I saw neither one of those movies, but I know what general comes from Ben Stiller and the Wayans the brothers . . .

I also think the success of “Fahrenheit 9/11” has proven that documentaries can be entertaining and informative. Maybe we’ll see a surge in good documentaries becoming more mainstream, too. Has anybody seen that movie about the guy who only ate fast food for a month? I’ve heard it’s really interesting, but haven’t seen it yet.

ShortSpeedFreak - September 6th, 2004 at 12:43 am

My Dad and I went to see Hero this afternoon… excellent movie. We both really enjoyed the psychological aspects of it, the use of color, and the exceptionally tense fight scenes– such a palpable feeling of tension, of opposing forces pulling the combatents taunt.

(and yes, the use of color was amazing.. my Dad particularly loved the color-change of the leaves)

Paradoxdruid - September 6th, 2004 at 3:29 am

Saw it yesterday. ’twas nifty, but sad. Jenny says it must be a Chinese thing.

Owen - September 12th, 2004 at 12:00 pm

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