Hero (2002) — A breathtaking kung fu epic

“How swift thy sword!”

Clare’s rating: You got your Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon in my The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover!

Clare’s review: I’ve heard the following things said in my presence about this film:

“I thought the fight scenes were fricking awesome, but what was all that other stuff about?”

and

“I’ve never really gotten why people dig that kind of highly choreographed fight scene stuff, but the rest of the movie was fricking awesome!!”

So I have it from two completely spontaneous and unsolicited sources that no matter what you’re into, this movie will deliver SOMETHING worth investing your hard earned doubloons to see. For those of you who, like myself, love all things kung fu and also love grandiose sweeping tales of epic proportions, this movie is a shiny penny found accidentally on the sidewalk of cinema. Or something. My point is, thus far and by far, it’s the best movie I’ve seen all year. And that’s counting both volumes of Kill Bill.

I didn’t know anything at all about Hero the first time I saw it recently and I have to say that I think walking in completely cold was the best way to go about it. I’d seen a couple of shots from the movie and a few friends had HIGHLY recommended it, so I checked it out on a dare more than anything else. With that in mind, I’m not going to really say too much about the plot of the movie or about what’s in store for you if you venture out to see it.

The movie begins with a nameless man (named Nameless and played by Jet Li) being delivered to a meeting with the king who is going to reward our hero for successfully killing the three people in his land who have been trying to assassinate the king for the length of his reign. The rest you’ll just have to find out for yourself.

I’ve seen Hero twice and I plan on trying to see it again at least one more time before it leaves theaters. There’s so much to take in by way of the story, the acting, the insanely beautiful cinematography, use of music, costumes, set design, choreography and just about everything else you can list off that makes movies worth seeing in the first place. In any case, I have to recommend that you see Hero in whatever way, shape or form you can find it. Big screen with the stereo surround sound is optimal, but don’t NOT see it on DVD just because it’s not as loud and big as it would be in a theater.

I don’t really find movies “breathtaking” very often, but there are at least three scenes in this film I can think of off the top of my head that make me drop my jaw and shake my head in disbelief every time I try to describe them to people. And like I said, even if you’re not the kind of person who is down for giant dramatic story arcs and epic love stories, it’s also got a humongous ton of crazy great fighting and action sequences too. So you can’t lose, really.

Hero was a huge hit when it came out overseas a few years ago. It was nominated for best foreign film last year at our Oscars, but didn’t win. I really can’t figure out why not though. It’s grand, ambitious, innovative, epic, sweeping, gorgeous and finely crafted in pretty much every regard imaginable. Go see it.

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