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August 2004

By Tonisha Johnson


Distributor: Miramax Films
Director: Zhang Yimou
Producers: Bill Kong, Zhang Yimou, and Quentin Tarantino
Screenwriter: Li Feng, Wang Bin, Zhang Yimou
Composer: Tan Dun
Cast: Jet Li, Tony Leung, Maggie Cheung, Zhang Ziyi, Donnie Yen, Chen Daoming
Language: In Mandarin with English subtitles




With a phenomenal cast of 6, writer-director Zhang Yimou portrays a time in China where Sword, Heart and Love represent the 3 highest levels of martial arts in this extraordinary film called Hero.

As with so many films of ethnic descent trivializing the culture and life of that particular group, Hero gets a chance to tell a story rich in the history of “Our Land” nearly 2000 years ago. “If you look at the history of Chinese martial arts literature,” says Zhang, “the plot always hinges on revenge… For years, this has been the only theme in Chinese martial arts films whether it’s Bruce Lee or Jackie Chan. I wanted to take the genre in a new direction. In my story, the goal is to downplay violence. The characters are motivated by their desire to end the war. For real martial arts heroes, the heart is far more important than the sword.”

Empty of saturation of fists of fury, Hero is bound for glory with its beauty and wonder in colorful scenery, brilliant film effects and spectacular imagery, yet still seemingly simple and plain. Its story telling through the main character Nameless, played by Jet Li, described as orphaned, has spent his life developing a unique skill in the art of sword fighting. “Hero is my dream movie. When I read the script, I cried twice. In my twenty-two year career of making movies, this is the first script that made me weep. It is an incredible story, and an important question about what kind of person we can call a hero.” – Jet Li.

Nameless gains friendship and allies in 3 assassins, Broken Sword (Tony LEUNG Chiu Wai) , who surprises the King with his remarkable vision, Snow (Maggie CHEUNG Man Yuk) and Sky (Donnie Yen) who want the Qin King (CHEN Daoming) dead.

Longtime servant Moon (ZHANG Ziyi) supports her master Broken Sword with undying devotion and loyalty. “Most projects offered to me contain many fight scenes,” she says, “But I really hoped to experience playing with my heart and not my fists. My role is rich, multi-layered and has a distinct personality.”

Three stories tell tales of love, mind-fighting, intrigue and heroism. But among the major players in the film, whom are all motivated by their own reasons for their fight, one can only determine who the hero is really? One or All?

Hero defines a true Asian film. Filled with History and Art; Love and Culture; Discipline and strength. This is a must see film.