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Hero

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All-Reviews.com Movie Review: Hero

Starring: Jet Li, Tony Leung Chiu Wai
Director: Yimou Zhang
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 96 Minutes
Release Date: August 2004
Genres: Action, Martial-Arts, Foreign


*Also starring: Maggie Cheung, Donnie Yen, Zhang Ziyi, Chen Dao Ming



Review by Susan Granger
4 stars out of 4

It's been nearly two years since its Asian release and foreign-film Oscar-nomination, yet this exciting folkloric epic is worth the wait, particularly for "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" fans.

During the third century B.C., before the reign of the first Emperor, China was split into seven feudal kingdoms. Determined to expand his power, the tyrannical King of Qin (Chen Dao Ming) is the target of three legendary assassins: Sky (Donnie Yen), Flying Snow (Maggie Cheung) and Broken Sword (Tony Leung), accompanied by Moon (Zhang Ziyi), his devoted servant. All are summarily vanquished by a skilled but lowly, nameless peasant (Jet Li), the titular Hero, who is then summoned to Qin's Royal Court for a unique private audience.

Writer/director Zhang Yimou ("Raise the Red Lantern," "Ju Dou") is a consummate story-teller, and the structure recalls "Rashomon," as ambiguous, often contradictory flashbacks reveal truths and half-truths, revolving around the theme that individuals should abandon personal ambition for the greater good. But it's Christopher Doyle's luminous, poetic cinematography that leaves you breathless, along with the stylized production and costume design, Tan Dun's musical score (featuring Itzhak Perlman's violin and Japan's Kodo Drummers), cleverly choreographed CGI and audacious wirework. One beautiful, strikingly sumptuous scene features two women, clad in crimson robes, fencing as golden leaves gently swirl around them. In another, the dueling figures are in blue, then green, and white. Bold, visually ravishing colors conceptualize the legend. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Hero" is a dazzling, exquisite, emotionally resonant 10. Known as China's most expensive movie, "Hero" is a truly a innovative work of art.

Copyright 2004 Susan Granger

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