The Bottom Line
- Jet Li and Zhang Yimou team up for beautifully filmed violence
- Gorgeous, color-coded martial arts ballet
- Zhang Ziyi
- The melodramatic plot is confusing and uninvolving
- China, 2002. 99 mins.
- Widescreen DVD with DTS 5.1 and Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound
- Featurette: "Hero" Defined
- "Inside the Action:" A conversation with Quentin Tarantino and Jet Li
Guide Review - Hero DVD
Unlike Ang Lee's "Crouching Tiger," "Hero" never quite comes together. The actors, including Maggie Cheung, Donnie Yen, and Zhang Ziyi, do their best to invest their characters with dignity and grace while they keep delivering deadly blows to one another, but in spite of all the tragedy, they only occasionally manage to generate any kind of emotional tug.
Instead, the lavish beauty of the art design will have to suffice, and it almost does. Yimou shows us things we have never seen before: an arrow's-eye view of a calligraphy school under siege, an autumnal fight among tornadoes of leaves, an airborne duel over a mountain lake, a deadly match in a rainy courtyard, and so forth. Each one of his set pieces is gorgeously photographed, and every single shot of "Hero" is a worthy of a framed poster. After two hours, the film's relentless beauty becomes numbing, and the plot just barely sustains interest.