Those who thirst for action movies will probably be disappointed by Zhang Yimou's martial-arts film, "Hero." However, those who enjoy epic/adventure and art-house films will feel right at home with the movie's twisting plot, colorful design and high-flying action.
"Hero" features action superstar Jet Li as Nameless, a warrior of extraordinary talent. When the story begins, Nameless has arrived in Qin, China, to be rewarded by the king for dispatching three deadly assassins and enemies of the throne. As a conversation between the king and Nameless unfolds, we learn the stories of the three warriors Nameless had to defeat. The movie flashes back to introduce Broken Sword, Flying Snow and Sky, the only three people in China the king has ever feared. From this point the story begins to twist and turn as the king begins to unravel Nameless' tale.
The characters and performances in "Hero" are all strong; no one is ever singled out as the good guy or the villain. Each character can be seen as a hero in their own way. The previews for the movie showed it to be a revenge movie. It has certain aspects of a revenge story, but much more has been added to it. The film plays out like a ballet, the action sequences are the flying-dances-of-death. The scenic design is full of bright, solid colors and the locations filmed in China are astonishingly beautiful.
Jet Li has become a martial-arts legend in China and the United States, and "Hero" won't hurt his reputation at all. It stands as its own film, even in the wake of "Crouching Tiger." But like "Tiger," "Hero" is the type of movie that you either like or you don't.
Joshua King has studied at Eastern Oregon University and at Lane Community College.