Hero (aka Ying xiong), despite it's recent release in American theatres, is not a "new" movie. The year on it is 2002. Rather, it was released in China (and elsewhere, I assume) before Quentin Tarantino "brought" it to the U.S. (I'm not positive but that's one hypothesis for the meaning of the phrase "Quentin Tarantino presents." I.e. He ponied up some money and name recognition to get it into American theatres, much as it is assumed he did for Iron Monkey a few years ago.) Hero stars Jet Li (probably my favorite movie-making "martial artist" of the past 10 years). The only other actor/actress I recognized was Ziyi Zhang since she played the role of Jen Yu in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. That's not to say there aren't other big names associated with this thing, 'cause there are. Such as the Producer of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and the Director Yimou Zhang. Rather, Mr. Li and Ms. Zhang are the ones I personally recognize and have seen before. Please do not misconstrue my lack of kung fu movie knowledge as insulting or ignoring many people who I should probably otherwise acknowledge.
The story of HERO starts off quite simply, as Jet Li begins to recount his martial triumphs to the Emperor of Qin. The tale is told in flashbacks which revisit and re-evaluate the same events, elaborating on and changing the story as we learn more.Very simplistic but very true. It begins with Nameless (Jet Li and yes that's the character's "name") telling the Emperor how he defeated three incredible assassins. The story unfolds from there. More I cannot say except that, in retrospect, the trailer is very misleading in the themes and memes it purports to display. If you watch the trailer after having seen the movie, you'll understand what I mean.
I loved this movie. It's Crouching Tiger without all that wishy-washy, nebulous plot thrown in. The plot of Hero is more direct but not without twists and surprises. The action sequences are VERY well done! (I had to bold and italicize that sentence because it's very true imho.) Jet Li does a fantastic job. The sequences are powerful, amazing and beautiful though not necessarily in that order. My only criticism is that the subtitles (yes, it's subtitled) sometimes moved a bit fast. I'm a fast reader and there were times where I barely finished reading the words before they were replaced. There's not too much you can do with that but if that's the worst part of this movie, that ain't bad. (And it's not a huge problem. The movie speaks volumes without any literal words. Seriously.) Anyways, I loved this one and will gladly go see it again with some friends.
ALAN'S MOVIE RATING: DVD-Worthy if you're into the genre.
(Thank you Mr. Tarantino!!!!)