Saturday, August 9, 2008

Great Film: Zhang Yimou's Hero

Hero (2002) is a Chinese epic from director Zhang Yimou. Actor Jet Li said the screenplay (by Li Feng, Zhang Yimou, and Wang Bin) was the best he had ever read and left him in tears. They often call this Jet Li's Hero to distinguish it from an earlier U.S. film (also worth watching but nothing great) starring Andy Garcia and Dustin Hoffman. Along with Li, the film also stars the most popular actress in the world, Ziyi Zhang, shown in the still shots above from Hero. The visually stunning style of Hero is the ultimate for an action-adventure film, going even one level higher than Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. It's no wonder that Quentin Tarantino wanted to get his name on this one as "Q.T. Presents....", like he had anything to do with creating this masterpiece! He did the same thing to the terrific crime film in two parts, Chungking Express, which inspired Pulp Fiction. The story is a story within the story, as a warrior relates his tale to the king of Qi'in (which became China), of how he killed three assassins from neighboring kingdoms who were plotting to kill him. Bose found the film so incredible that it used a famous sword master sequence in a tv ad for a new tv surround sound system; they claim to have a hidden camera on a family who is appropriately 'jaw-dropped' by the film and sound. Hero is full of memorable scenes and sequences, I won't describe any, they have to be experienced at least twice. Watch it once with subtitles, then again without any distractions to the visual poetry because this is the cinamatic art at its highest level. Other great visual action films: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (China, Ang Lee); Spiderman; The Matrix; House of Flying Daggers (China, Z.Yimou); The Seven Samurai (Japan); The Empire Strikes Back; The Replacement Killers; Diva (France); Aliens; The Road Warrior; Run, Lola, Run (Germany).

No comments: