Hero (2002)

9.0 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 9/10
Visuals: 10/10

Great use of color, imagery, strong acting

A bit slow, mixed message due to translation

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Hero

Studio: Sil-Metropole Organisation/China Film Co-Produce Corporation

Genre(s): Martial Arts/Drama

Release Date(s): October 24, 2002

MPAA Rating: PG-13


I could walk right through all of you if I wanted

Nameless (Jet Li) comes to the King of Qin (Daoming Chen) with news that he has killed three enemy assassins from the kingdom of Zhao.  He tells the story of Sky (Donnie Yen), Broken Sword (Tony Leung Chiu Wai), Falling Snow (Maggie Cheung), and Broken Sword’s aide Moon (Ziyi Zhang) and how he conquered them for the Kingdom of Qin.  Nameless is hiding something however and it is up to the King of Qin to determine what he’s heard is lies and what is the truth.

Directed by Zhang Yimou, Hero (or the original title of Ying xiong) was released in China in 2002, but didn’t make it to the U. S. until 2004.  There was fear that it wouldn’t translate to the United States, but with hits like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon already gaining popularity, Hero became one of the biggest grossing foreign films.  With Quentin Tarantino’s backing, it was the first foreign film to open at #1 in the U. S. box office and ended up with an Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Film.


My, my…come here often?

The movie is pretty amazing looking.  It is told in Rashomon style storytelling with the same events told from a different perspective.  The filmmaker applied colors to the different events and the effect was great.  The first perspective was the lie told by the Nameless to get close to the King of Qin.  It is rich with reds.  The second coloring is the blue phase in which the King of Qin tells what he thinks happens.  There is also a segment within this story where orange mixes with the red as Sky battles Moon.  The third color phase is white and that is the closest to the truth of the events.  Within white there is a green segment which has flashbacks of Broken Sword and Falling Snow.  The effect is good and ties in well with the multiple tellings of the story.


I love the falling leaves…just not in my face!

Jet Li is pretty stoic and emotionless in the movie (which he’s suppose to be), but Tony Leung Chiu Wai, Maggie Cheung, and Ziyi Zhang all give stellar performances as a group all caught in kind of a love triangle (depending on the story).  Their performances and perceptions of each other change as the story is told and it shows a much wider range of acting than that of Jet Li.

The movie did take some criticism and rightfully so.  It is a little slow paced and the plot is kind of slim.  One of the criticisms however has to do with the translation of the “words” written by Tony Leung Chiu Wai.  The word is Tianxia which translates to “everything under the sun”.  In 2004 American release, it was translated as “Our Land” which kept China as the center and not a view of the world as a whole.


I summon the power of the Blue Ranger!

Hero is a good, fun movie that some might have overlooked due to the Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon onslaught that seemed to take over after that movie was released.  It seemed that everyone wanted to do wire work performance.  Lots of wind and close up shots of people with blowing hair…Hero is no different, but its presentation and story beat out other movies like House of the Flying Daggers or many others that hit the theater…check Hero out!

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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