Hero (Movie - 2004) The extravagant visual beauty of Hero is, in a way, its own reward. Zhang Yimou's martial-arts epic, set at the dawn of the Qin dynasty,… Hero (Movie - 2004) The extravagant visual beauty of Hero is, in a way, its own reward. Zhang Yimou's martial-arts epic, set at the dawn of the Qin dynasty,… 2004-08-27 PG-13 PT99M Action/Adventure Foreign Language Jet Li Tony Leung Maggie Cheung Donnie Yen Ziyi Zhang Miramax
Movie Review

Hero (2004)

MPAA Rating: PG-13
Jet Li, Hero (Movie - 2004) | WANNA BE MY 'HERO'? Jet Li is looking for the guy who killed all his red birds
WANNA BE MY 'HERO'? Jet Li is looking for the guy who killed all his red birds
EW's GRADE
B+

Details Release Date: Aug 27, 2004; Rated: PG-13; Length: 99 Minutes; Genres: Action/Adventure, Foreign Language; With: Jet Li and Tony Leung; Distributor: Miramax

The extravagant visual beauty of Hero is, in a way, its own reward. Zhang Yimou's martial-arts epic, set at the dawn of the Qin dynasty, when China was a land of warring kingdoms, is as new a genre for the director of ''Raise the Red Lantern'' as it was four years ago when Ang Lee unfurled ''Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,'' his swords-and-wirework masterpiece. And you can be sure Lee's success inspired Zhang: I'll see your fight-dance on bamboo trees, this opulent production (a 2003 Oscar nominee for Best Foreign Language Film) seems to taunt, and I'll raise you by slicing water drops right before your eyes.

I wish ''Hero'''s emotional heat rose more intensely -- more recklessly. There's something grand but distant and almost fetishistic about the operatic solemnity with which Zhang approaches the Rashomonic story of assassins attempting to kill a king, and even the love story between a sword-fighting calligrapher (''In the Mood for Love'''s Tony Leung) and his sweetheart (Leung's ''Love'' costar Maggie Cheung) is girdled with reserve. Still, the eye swoons. The cast is a parade of action stars in full charisma, led by Jet Li in the title role and graced, as every martial-arts epic might as well be, by ''Crouching Tiger'''s own Zhang Ziyi. The action choreography (by Tony Ching) is new-wave elegant, with bodies sometimes suspended in mid-motion with a bravado bordering on obsessive. And when the real hero of the picture, ''In the Mood for Love'''s cinematographer Christopher Doyle, devises imagery of such color- coded gorgeousness, it's easy to become bewitched by sheer movie grandeur.

Originally posted Aug 25, 2004 Published in issue #781 Sep 03, 2004 Order article reprints
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