Directed by: Yimou Zhang
Premise: A nameless assassin (Jet Li) recounts how he defeated three other assassins.
What Works: This is a beautiful looking film, even more so that Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. It is heavily formalistic and its fight scenes are incredible but these elaborations on the form are done in ways that support the narrative. The story design is very interesting as well; the stories are told multiple times and with each telling the audience learns something more about the characters and about the nature of war and heroism. There is a huge scope to the look of the film but it has a strong emotional center based on interesting human relationships.
What Doesn’t: Some portions of the story move slowly. While this fits with the tone and style of the picture, it sometimes feels like it needs to pick up. There is an interesting theme about the nature of war but a lot of it comes only at the very end.
Bottom Line: Hero is a gorgeous looking film that is done on the scale of some of Hollywood’s biggest event pictures, but it never loses sight of the intimate human relationships.
Episode: #16 (August 29, 2004)