Unfortunately, the flying ninjas and the over-the-top, computer-generated fight scenes did not come to an end with “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.”
Zhang Yimou’s “Hero” proudly carries the tradition over.
“Hero” is the simple story of Jet Li’s character, Nameless (so-named because his parents died before they gave him a name) and his adventures as he plans to assassinate the King of Qin, played by Chen Dao Ming. We know that Li’s family was killed by the Qin army and that he is seeking revenge against the king.
The movie begins with Li being escorted into the palace and hailed as a hero for killing assassins who had been trying to kill the king. From this point onward the plot could not be any simpler. Li and Ming talk about how Li killed the assassins and whether he actually did it. This dialogue is interspersed with flashbacks of Li’s story and Ming’s interpretation of it.
During the dialogue between Li and Ming, the subtitles go very quickly and it’s easy to miss a few words here and there. Missing some of the dialogue probably won’t cause too much of a problem, but it is aggravating nonetheless.
As far as a martial arts movie is concerned, this plot is complex, it has more than one twist and does keep you wondering. Still, many parts of it seem like an excuse to show more fight scenes.
Fight scenes are entertaining in general, but what happened to people like Bruce Lee? He actually did everything that was in the movie. It was much more entertaining to watch someone who had such amazing skills than something that obviously comes from a computer.
Many of the fight scenes in “Hero” look more like interpretive dance than battle. Some of them are downright funny. Every battle scene featured at least one of three things: flying, ignoring gravity or excessive spinning. All of them featured an impressive amount of slow motion. Maybe that’s why the movie seems so long.
There is a large amount of symbolism mixed into the movie, but it will be lost on most viewers because most viewers won’t care.
In the movie’s previews, Quentin Tarantino’s name is flashed in the trailer, but he didn’t write or direct the movie, leaving his fans feeling deprived. Don’t expect a plot as complex as a Tarantino movie, any of the witty dialogue or even the hilariously artificial fight scenes. Tarantino’s only involvement in the film was as a producer.
“Hero” is a stereotypical modern martial arts movie. The actors fight, but the computers make it look cool. It does answer one of the age-old martial arts movie questions: How many dancing ninjas does it take to fend off and army of archers? The answer? Two. If you want something more than a martial arts movie, “Hero” probably isn’t for you. If you enjoy computer-generated fight scenes, then this is your movie.
1 and a half out of 4