"Hero" reviews

What’s the word on the new Zhang Yimou epic? Anyone seen it yet?

I saw it. The greatest kungfu infomercial for reunification I have ever seen. You’ll understand what I mean when you see it. Very cool movie. Great cinematography. Splendid colors and style. The martial arts are okay. The story is kind of stupid and simple. Zhang Zi-yi is completely unncessary and adds nothing to the movie (I did like her "red’ fight scene with the leaves though.) Jet li doesn’t do any acting as usual. Other than him, pretty good acting. Overall, pretty awesome movie visually. Could have been the greatest martial art picture ever made with a more involving storyline, but definitely worth seeing.

im going to see it tonight… but i find it very hard to beleive that zhang xiao jie could possibly be ‘unnecessary’ …mmmmmmmm

She is. She also looks about 15 inthe film, which may be a good thing or a bad thing depending on the ratio of perverted to paternal hormones flowing through your veins.

Chainsmoker’s decription is highly and amusingly accurate. However, I did not feel it so much a infomercial as a laundry commercial (all those shots of big billowy sheets, and unstarched sleeves flowing in the wind, and water, water, everywhere).

Appallingly stupid ending though (I mean the plot resolution).

However, if China wanted to prove she could complete with meaningless Amercian eye-candy blockbusters, she has certainly succeeded. But I wonder how it will do in the west. I’m sure the audience there won’t get the fact that the first emperor of Chin was made to look like an unwillingly tyrant because this would gain politcial favor in modern China. They’ll simply see the ending as completely unmotivated and nonsensical in the context of the film.

On the other hand, being completely free of historical knowledge maybe western audiences will buy into the idea that the emporer wanted to subjugate everyone under the sun in order to end war and conflict. But still, how the hell would an assassin glean this during an assassination attempt? And since the whole movie rests on the plausibility of this, I think it will be panned.

In addition to the transparent propoganda aspect of the film, as well as the stupid plot, lousy resolution, and wooden acting you can add unbelievably clichéd dialogue.

Lots of pretty colours, though. :unamused:

What are the spoken-language and subtitle options on the DVD?

Pure eye candy. The plot is thin and the actor’s talents (it is a star studded cast) under utilised.

I think Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was a much better movie.

Comparing CTHD to Hero is flawed. Hero is much slower and depends on visuals (colors and choreography) rather than action and fighting scenes.
While CTHD just gets away with the wire works in the eyes of Western audiences Hero will definetely fail here due to the extensive use of those.
Slow movie but great cinematography.

Oh, and Zhang Zi Yi looks as good as ever … :wink:

What DVD? The movie is still playing in the theatres…

Chinese with English and Chinese subtitles.

And there are also the bonus features: popcorn chewing and whispering–only available on the bootleg version.

I liked it a lot. It’s very much a Zhang Yimou movie, very visual with all the colours, the swaying curtains, the water. I guess I would even like it if they left out the (admittedly weak) story and just showed the pictures. Rascal is right, you can’t really compare it to CTHD (which I loved as well, but in a different way).

As to the story, I think that the emperor is depicted as way too sympathetic and caring. He wasn’t quite that nice bloke whose ultimate goal in the use of war and violence simply was to unite all the people in China in harmony. I guess most people in Western countries won’t care too much as they are probably too ignorant of Chinese history. However, in the few reviews I read on the Berlin Film Festival, critics weren’t exactly over-enthusiastic. Some actually mentioned this “distortion” of Chinese history. I wonder what Taiwanese people think about it. I told my Taiwanese colleague that I had seen the movie, and she was shocked: “But it’s all about unifying Taiwan with the PRC”, she said. Have you heard other Taiwanese say the same? I doubt that Zhang Yimou actually thought that far. He probably gladly took the money from the government to make the film while the “unification” motive might in fact have looked rather attractive to PRC authorities.

I also wonder if the depicted emotions will appeal to a Western audience. As in other Chinese movies, I sometimes felt that the emotional outbursts might not always be comprehensible to Westerners. But maybe that’s my personal impression.

As to the subtitles and the Chinese: The language is very classical and I probably wouldn’t have understood much without first the English and after a while the Chinese subtitles. Luckily, the dialogues were mostly slow enough for me to follow.

My 2 Cents

Quite so. The emperor outdid the nazis in bookburning and had some 450 scholars buried alive. The ruinous taxation, the forced labor…

As long as I’m ranting, I might as well mention a pet peeve of mine: the “unified China” claim. While the assertion is actually basically correct, the problem is that people often don’t realize that the “China” of that time was most certainly not today’s China.

It is unfortunately inconceivable that Zhang Yimou didn’t know he would be making, in Chainsmoker’s memorable phrase, a “kungfu infomercial for reunification.” Zhang used to have trouble with the powers that be. No more for this movie.

[quote=“maoman”]What DVD? The movie is still playing in the theatres…[/quote]I’ve seen a DVD labelled “Hero” and featuring Jet Li on the cover. It doesn’t look like a pirated disc. Maybe it’s all about the making of the movie or something.

Shida will have a free screening of Hero tomorrow, July 31st, at 10am and again at 2pm. It’s in the 5th floor auditorium of the Bo’ai building (MTS). You might be asked for a student id at the ground floor, in this case you can say you’re going to the 6th floor to register.

If anyone hasn’t seen this, let me know. I can probably sneak you in to the afternoon show.

I heard that the “Hero” movie was a big hit internationally and made hundreds of millions of US$ at the box office . . . . . . . . or was that another movie?

Why exactly are they screening this for free? Is this an MTC event? Can I renew my New Party membership at the same location?

I wasn’t aware that the New Party’s platform supports the Qin Dynasty.

Tremendous. I haven’t been satisfied by a movie since The Gift.

Just came back from the screening of Hero. For future reference, noone checked my id either at the ground floor or at the 5th floor auditorium. And Shida does have these screenings every once in a while, the trick is just to find out about them.

They played the DVD, and decided to show the ‘making of’ feature documentary before the actual film. A lot of the documentary was Zhang Yimou complaning about how the large epic scenes were so difficult to shoot, and how the wind, water, sand and what else were all great obstacles. Then there was a gem by cinematographer Christopher Doyle II, saying his greatest personal issue was a lack of a good bar in the desert regions of China. For a moment, Christopher with his big fuzzy hair was Everywhiteguy incarnate.

The movie was really a pleasure to watch, the use of colors very obvious, but let’s not kid ourselves, we need that kind of visual stimulus to keep us awake through 2 hours. There were other impressive visual effects, like the cloud of arrows released by the Qin army, the splitting of water droplets and bamboo sticks by Jet Li’s sword, and the residence of Broken Sword and Flying Snow, which achieved a hall of mirrors effect without any mirrors. The wire-fighting scenes were noticably slow (and too numerous), but the slowness was deliberate I think, in line with the contemplative nature of the whole film.

For us language enthusiasts, the scenes at the Zhou calligraphy school provided plenty of entertainment. It was interesting when the school master said during the Qin army’s onslaught: “they can destroy our towns, but they cannot take away our culture”. He used the word ‘zi’ (word) instead of ‘wenhua’ (culture), which made sense in the context of the calligraphy school, but to me this really shed light on how central these crazy characters are to defining Chinese identity, and explains why Chinese are so reluctant to part with them.

The king of Qin, upon hearing the account of the calligraphy school, reflected: “20 ways just to write sword, surely we cannot let our writing system become so complicated”. :laughing: :laughing: Truer characters have never been spoken.

As for the pro-unification theme, I don’t think it was so apparent. To claim that this is the hidden message is gratuitous exaggeration. Initially, the king of Qin sounded rather ridiculous, more like some cartoon nemesis then a wise historical figure, saying how he will unite the 6 kingdoms and then the vast territories beyond. Add to this that most of the movie was glorifying the assassins plotting against the king. The final scene was no clear crushing sentence against the separatists either. The king was torn between his duties to enforce the law and his sympathies towards his enemies.

Overall, a very impressive and entertaining movie. It’s the kind of historical sugarcoated-reality that every nation likes to endulge in, and the kind of movie Chinese movie makers have not been allowed to make for a long time. For Zhang Yimou, it’s probably an homage to everything Chinese: martial arts, calligraphy, the Great Wall, the music, the scenery.