DVD Reviews | Mar 4th, 2005

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Starring Jet Li, Maggie Cheung, Tony Leung Chiu Wai, Chen Dao Ming, Donnie Yen, Zhang Ziyi
Written By: Wang Bin, Li Feng, Zhang Yi-Mou, Zhang Yimou
Directed By: Zhang Yimou
Studio: Miramax
Buy on Amazon.com

Hero, the visually stunning epic, about a country 2000 years ago that was divided into seven territories. With all seven territories constantly at war, one assassin decided to try and change things and unite the whole nation. Jet Li stars as Nameless, a cunning warrior who has managed to get a face to face with the much disliked King of GIn. The reasons for the sit down are unfolded throughout the movie, with flashbacks and great storytelling which leaves you guessing what is going to happen or what did happen. Hero was nominated for both an Academy Award and Golden Globe in 2003 and dominated the US box office for several weeks in 2004. Hero, is an entertaining and beautifully shot movie.

Looking further into the story, China was a bitterly divided nation, with war and assassinations commonplace. King of Gin, who was hated amongst the seven territories, was always trying to be assassinated by the most crafted and skillful warriors of the land. When one unnamed soldier appears and states he has slain all the warriors who tried to defeat the King, Nameless is given an audience with the King. Tales of his adventure show he outwitted all the warriors, and was no match for any of them. Or was it all a ploy? See, the assassins were so deadly and powerful it is hard to imagine one unknown warrior defeating them all single handedly. Warriors like Broken Sword, Flying Snow, and Sky were so well known throughout that the King takes question to Nameless’s stories. With all the flashbacks of the movie, it is hard to realize which way is the right way the story took place. The first group is the version Jet Li’s character Nameless tells the King. Then, the King doesn’t believe him and tells Nameless his version of what happened. Realizing the King is close to the truth, Nameless informs him of what really happened. I know it can get really confusing but the story is very compelling how a warrior as strong as Nameless is how he comes up with the plan for revenge. Jet Li’s character was from a rival territory and the King of Gin killed many of his people. So when the opportunity to meet the King arrived, Nameless did not hesitate at the chance for revenge.

Extras on the disk were pretty good. First, the making of documentary entitled “” This was cool to check out because it covered many aspects of the production and explained the story a little further with interviews with the cast, producers and the director. It shows how precise each shot had to be and what went into making them perfect. For instance, the scenes with Jet Li flying over a lake had to be shot only during the hours of 10 am to 12pm for three weeks because that is when the lake appeared to look like glass. Ya know, those scenes were spectacular because of the imagery and how beautiful the lake was. You feel like you just have to watch the movie over again and again to see how visually it looked because I don’t remember a movie that looked this good. The colors, the outfits, the swordplay, were all amazing. A few other features in the extras were a “Conversation with Jet Li and Quentin Tarantino,” and storyboards, that compared four scenes in storyboard form to the way it was shot in the movie.

Overall, I enjoyed Hero very much. At times, it was a bit confusing as to where the story was really telling the story but you eventually get that. Visually, one of the best looking films recently. The score by Tan Dun was also really enjoyable to listen to during the movie and on its own. The excellent violin playing, done by Itzhak Perlman, was the stand out piece of the score. So if you like interesting stories, beautifully shot, international movies, then this is one you should check out. Hero is one of the most entertaining movies on the year.

Inside The Action: A Conversation With Quentin Tarantino & Jet Li
Hero Defined Storyboards

ENGLISH: Dolby Digital 5.1 CC
FRENCH: Dolby Digital 5.1
MANDARIN: Dolby Digital 5.1

Widescreen 2.35:1 Color (Anamorphic)


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Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 99 minutes
Extras Rating:
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