Movie Review
Ying Xiong
Hero poster
By Craig Younkin     Published August 30, 2004
US Release: August 27, 2004

Directed by: Yimou Zhang
Starring: Jet Li

Running Time: 96 minutes
Domestic Box Office: $53,583,000
Hero has so much that will shock you that it's a shame the story doesn't give us quite as much reason to care.
"Hero" has the makings of a great film, which makes it all the worse that it isn't a great film. The film manages to be breathtaking and boring at the same time, astounding us with its visuals while continuously losing us with the story's lack of heat.

The story begins in China where the king of Qin has sent for the Nameless One (Jet Li). The king is conducting a war with the seven other cities, hoping to unify and rule them all. The Nameless One is his prefect, a fantastic swordsman sent to these cities to assassinate their great fighters (or at least I think that was what they were) so as to ensure the king easy victory.

The king has sent for the Nameless One to honor him for his bravery and hear the tale of how he has dispatched these great warriors, or has he? The king suspects that the Nameless One may have made a deal with the other warriors; if he killed them, he can get close to the king and kill him too. Several versions of the story are told, one from the Nameless One, one from the king, and another coming from one of the great fighters.

The story is merely a backdrop for the fight scenes. There are incredible fights that use beautifully colored backdrops of red, blue, and white, and incorporate nature and weapons in ways that are awesomely unreal. One fight in particular that really floored me was one in which two characters fight in between a storm of swirling leaves; there is another scene where we follow thousands of arrows being launched.

?Hero? has so much that will shock you that it's a shame the story doesn't give us quite as much reason to care; the characters are bland and very hard to connect with. We understand why they're doing what they're doing but the movie never lets us feel the hatred for the king or sympathize with the way the heroes have suffered; they just float along like dead wood, albeit visually handsome looking dead wood.
Craig's Grade: C+
Craig's Overall Grading: 340 graded movies
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'Hero' Articles
  • Greg's review C+
    September 7, 2004    The problem with Hero is that it presents a good idea, but doesn?t really go anywhere with it. -- Greg Ward
  • Jennifer's review A-
    September 7, 2004    Everything in the film seems to have been planned with precision, all leading up to an emotional final showdown. -- Jennifer Alpeche
  • Lee's review B
    August 27, 2004    This film is artsy and yet still gives in to a visual flare as irresistible as Crouching Tiger meets Kill Bill. -- Lee Tistaert