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Hero – Review September 25, 2009

Posted by Cello in Movie Reviews.


Hero is a great film, flat out. I enjoyed Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon but I personally found Hero to be much more engaging, both emotionally and intellectually. The film is centered around a lone swordsman who goes by the title of Nameless, played by Jet Li, whose mission is to stop three assassins who have vowed to kill emperor Qin. For all the history buffs out there, Between 230 and 221 BC, the Kingdom of Qin, led by Qin Shihuangdi, waged war and conquered the other six kingdoms, unifying the country into what would become the first dynasty of China which resulted in standardization of the written language, currency, and weights and measures. But in the midst of such great things, he also had a mean streak which garnered plenty of negative attention. Emporer Qin was ruthless in how he held onto the reigns of power, which included burning political writings and executing those who disagreed with his policies.

There is little background information given about the main characters and not a lot of context provided for each scene. However, Hero reminded me of what filmmaking and ought to be, which is a work of art. The cinematography is nothing short of breathtaking. And it’s a return to form for Jet Li, whose American efforts never reached the potential of his earlier Chinese films and who now finally has a project worthy of his talent. While there are no huge battle scenes, there are many individual matches between Jet Li and characters.


It is a fantastic film experience, filled with brilliant performances from end to end, including cinematography, acting and directing. Most of the story of Hero is told in flashback as Nameless tells his stories and the king questions him. Each scene is dominated by one primary color, from the opening desert white to the reds of the calligraphy school to the yellows of autumn leaves whose wind-swept swirls become weapons in themselves. One perspective is looking at this movie as if it were Chinese propaganda, since the movie tries to characterize the first King of China as a misunderstood protagonist being perceived as a tyrant. In reality, like I stated before, was that he worse than Hitler.

The message of this film was not written for American ears. It was made for a Chinese audience. It is often difficult to translate select elements and dialogues of an Asian film in a manner that Western audience would understand. This one gets a pass as it wasn’t a movie you had to pay extreme attention to in order to grasp its plot.  Hero deserves to be enjoyed but one also has to accept that it’s an ambitious movie. It is superb, well done, and well worth seeing.



1. glothelegend - September 25, 2009

I went to see this with a few friends. They all thought it was the worst movie ever. They obviously don’t understand movies, as this movie was very very well done.

The colors were magnificent, as each character gave their own view on the story, the colors (as you said) changed, and I thought that that, along with the cinematography and directing made this a brilliant movie. This never got the respect it deserved (in my opinion).

My friends were completely confused by this movie, I thought it was fairly easy to understand.

2. bluedrakon - September 25, 2009

I was a little confused in the beginning of the movie, but as it progressed, I GOT IT. It was a interesting storyline and I did enjoy the way it moved. The arrow scenes are just over the top and a great visual.

3. ironanno - September 25, 2009

A movie better than Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Just made my must see list, which grows daily thanks to your site. Damn You. 😀

4. Nathan Bartlebaugh - September 25, 2009

Hero–oh hells yeah!

A lovely, lovely movie. You see Divine Weapon yet Cello?

5. trinidadianbarbie - September 26, 2009

i truly loved this movie i can’t tell you how many times i’ve seen it!! i could literally curl up on my couch and watch it like i’m watching it for the first time ever lol and the color’s OH the color’s had me so mesmerized all the stories told in different ways, in different colors!! OH now i want to watch it lol….House of Flying Daggers was good too

6. pangofilms - September 27, 2009

I agree. This was a great movie.

7. Heather - September 27, 2009

I think it’s AWESOME you liked this more than Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon because I did too. It has some of the most beautiful cinematography I have ever seen. The damn costumes are whimsical and take you into this world that is mystic. I could watch this movie 100 times in a row and it’s magic would never wear on me. Frankly this film likely makes my Top Twenty ever. Period.

Here’s my review if you feel like hearing someone preach to the choir:


8. Starsquid - September 28, 2009

Thanks for the comment, avid asian cinema fan huh, I though Hero was good, although more eye candy than story imo.

9. lotusjune - September 28, 2009

The first king is controversial figure in Chinese history. Even in China, we know he was a very brutal king. Regardless, this film is poetic and beautifully made.

10. Yi - September 29, 2009

I really loved the artistic cinematography of this movie.
“Con: Li doesn’t make more films like this.”
I suppose that is sort of a con for Jet Li, although his recent movies are pretty good too.

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