Hero (2002)

China, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Thailand, etc.
User avatar
luckystars
Royal Tramp
Posts: 1893
Joined: 12 Sep 2005, 09:01

Hero (2002)

Unread post by luckystars » 23 Mar 2015, 13:35

Just watched this last night (UK blu)

What I loved:

The cast.

2 female leads Maggie Cheung and Zhang Ziyi. Maggie a legend in her own right looks beautiful in this. She really holds her own as a screen fighter but admitted at the time she was pushed to her limits filming. Zhang Ziyi probably at the height of her fame is superb too. Possibly still a little young at the time to be taken as a serious actress but perfectly cast. Their woodland fight is stunning.

Jet Li is superb and looks so young in this now looking back. Tony Leung is perfect and definitely hold up the standard of acting in the film, and Donnie Yen is brilliant in his short supporting role.

Christopher Doyle. I'm a complete fanboy when it comes to his work. I love how some sequences in the film would be interchangeable with WKW.

The scale of sets and production is breathtaking. Hero virtually redefined period film making in China. The battle scenes especially. Virtually every 'warring States' film draws directly from Hero.

The soundtrack is stunning


What I didn't love:

It's so stiff and poetic it actually made me laugh at times and I honestly considered are they sending themselves up here. I know many sequences are meant to be dreamlike as they're a sort of minds eye depiction of the events as they are told from different character perspectives, but unfortunately the story is not nearly as deep as it needs to be to carry the pace and production style imo



What is like to know is how successful the directors cut is. I'm really keen to watch it in comparison now
2010 - The return of the HK movie industry :)
Image

User avatar
HungFist
Bruce Lee's Fist
Posts: 10627
Joined: 14 Dec 2005, 15:50
Location: Japan
Contact:

Re: Hero (2002)

Unread post by HungFist » 23 Mar 2015, 14:11

I never quite got into this they way some others apparently did, and I ended up giving my dvd away some years ago. It's certainly not a bad movie, has many good things about it, but to me it seems that for Zhang Yimou it's art first, everything else second. Nothing bad about filming action and drama in an artistic, poetic way, but when everything seems to be for art's sake it becomes a bit clumsy. For example, the lake fight... while it looks beautiful there's very little continuity between the shots. Half of the time when there's a cut the characters appear in a completely different place than where they were a fraction of a second ago.

Tenchu1998
Jade Tiger
Posts: 134
Joined: 01 May 2012, 00:44

Re: Hero (2002)

Unread post by Tenchu1998 » 23 Mar 2015, 16:24

Well, it's not really like Zhang Yimou is the first one to make so-called artsy-fartsy Wuxia movies - King Hu, Yimou's big influence, made the genre to be artsy-fartsy from the beginning with movies like 'Dragon Gate Inn' and 'A Touch of Zen'. Does the continuity of the placement of the characters matter when King Hu brilliantly utilized cut-frame techniques to make his movies like living paintings of mythological beings dancing on the wind of the forest?

Not to mention Wong Kar Wai continued on this with his 'Ashes of Time' movie, although in my opinion not quite succeeding as a whole movie.

The whole idea of hero is that it's supposed to be a theatrical experience, drawing upon the Chinese tradition of acrobatic stage antics and melodrama in combination with mythology. The whole point of the movie is telling the story the way it is told. I think 'Hero' is probably one of the movies in the genre to achieve this the best.

Although I am also personally not really too big of a fan of 'Hero', 'Flying Daggers' or even 'Curse of the Golden Flower'. I actually don't like 'Flying Daggers' much at all, except for the Zhang Ziyi dance sequence in the beginning. And the sequence that I really like the most in 'Hero' is the chess house battle. Christopher Doyle is a genius D.O.P. and I love the vivid use of colors and these grand, wide shots. Zhang Yimou is without a doubt a master of his craft, for better and worse - I think from a movie perspective that Yimou hasn't really done a really substantial drama since 'To live', and that these days he just makes effective movies that are more on par with someone like Steven Spielberg.

Generally 'Hero' is criticized for being this Chinese state propaganda movie, being the movie has a message of unity under one king. And the state even helped fund the movie, and Zhang Yimou was allowed to film in these grand locations. Yimou did develop a very good relationship to the Chinese state.

User avatar
luckystars
Royal Tramp
Posts: 1893
Joined: 12 Sep 2005, 09:01

Re: Hero (2002)

Unread post by luckystars » 23 Mar 2015, 16:37

@Hung they filmed the lake fight over 3 weeks and were restricted to only 2 hours filming per day because the director wanted the water to be completely still instead of swirling around!

You can see the time issues as in the final shots the mountains in the background are covered with snow!!

Also Tony Leung fucked up his ankle filming and his doctor said no wirework for a couple months(??) til her was better. He was back filming the next day


I think this fight is different somehow in the DC. It was the only one I didn't really enjoy. Even tho it is *meant* to be fantasy like
2010 - The return of the HK movie industry :)
Image

Tenchu1998
Jade Tiger
Posts: 134
Joined: 01 May 2012, 00:44

Re: Hero (2002)

Unread post by Tenchu1998 » 23 Mar 2015, 16:39

The movie is of transient nature. They're all Buddhists; they don't care about linear continuity.

User avatar
HungFist
Bruce Lee's Fist
Posts: 10627
Joined: 14 Dec 2005, 15:50
Location: Japan
Contact:

Re: Hero (2002)

Unread post by HungFist » 23 Mar 2015, 17:40

Tenchu1998 wrote:Well, it's not really like Zhang Yimou is the first one to make so-called artsy-fartsy Wuxia movies - King Hu, Yimou's big influence, made the genre to be artsy-fartsy from the beginning with movies like 'Dragon Gate Inn' and 'A Touch of Zen'. Does the continuity of the placement of the characters matter when King Hu brilliantly utilized cut-frame techniques to make his movies like living paintings of mythological beings dancing on the wind of the forest?

Not to mention Wong Kar Wai continued on this with his 'Ashes of Time' movie, although in my opinion not quite succeeding as a whole movie.
I never saw Dragon Gate Inn, and it's been a decade since I saw A Touch of Zen (I remember loving it, though), but I wouldn't agree about Ashes of Time. Arty it may be, the continuity is still there. Every move and every shot seems (more or less) like a logical continuation to the previous one. In Hero's lake fight there are moments that make me feel like they played random shots in random order.
Tenchu1998 wrote:The movie is of transient nature. They're all Buddhists; they don't care about linear continuity.
Tell that to Jackie Chan :lol:

Tenchu1998
Jade Tiger
Posts: 134
Joined: 01 May 2012, 00:44

Re: Hero (2002)

Unread post by Tenchu1998 » 23 Mar 2015, 18:22

My point was just to say that these particular Wuxia movies have a transient quality to them. The fighting sequence in 'Hero' is purposely not meant to have a linear continuity - Jet Li and Tony Leung are expressing their sorrow for the sacrificed Maggie Cheung, and the sequence is meant to show us their dance in moving frame moments. The movie does not depict the dance in a linear sequence to us - it cuts off linear time, showing us captured moments of it, as if the frame was a living painting (or a graphic novel).

It's basically a continuation of transient framing that was done by King Hu in certain scenes of 'Dragon Gate Inn' and 'A Touch of Zen', and also by Wong Kar Wai with 'Ashes of Time'. It's not clumsily put together; it's meant to be the way it is. Just like this sequence in this Japanese movie 'This Transient life': https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UUUsQTaiZqY

User avatar
Markgway
Bruce Lee's Fist
Posts: 19709
Joined: 18 Feb 2005, 02:04

Re: Hero (2002)

Unread post by Markgway » 23 Mar 2015, 20:12

I haven't seen Hero in about ten years, but did rate it highly at the time.
Image

User avatar
grim_tales
Bruce Lee's Fist
Posts: 21691
Joined: 25 Oct 2004, 18:34
Location: St. Albans, UK

Re: Hero (2002)

Unread post by grim_tales » 23 Mar 2015, 20:59

I'm the same as you Mark, I really liked it but havent seen it in a long time.

User avatar
luckystars
Royal Tramp
Posts: 1893
Joined: 12 Sep 2005, 09:01

Re: Hero (2002)

Unread post by luckystars » 23 Mar 2015, 22:15

I was the same. Saw in cinema and seen bits on TV over years. I still love the film but found the story a bit lacking in retrospect

I think the DC will be more rewarding to watch
2010 - The return of the HK movie industry :)
Image

User avatar
grim_tales
Bruce Lee's Fist
Posts: 21691
Joined: 25 Oct 2004, 18:34
Location: St. Albans, UK

Re: Hero (2002)

Unread post by grim_tales » 23 Mar 2015, 22:41

I'm not sure if I've seen the DC to this day, was that ever released on BD? :?
I still have the HK 2 DVD SE which plays different to how the US version was assembled (even the theatrical cut).

User avatar
luckystars
Royal Tramp
Posts: 1893
Joined: 12 Sep 2005, 09:01

Re: Hero (2002)

Unread post by luckystars » 23 Mar 2015, 23:23

grim_tales wrote:I'm not sure if I've seen the DC to this day, was that ever released on BD? :?
I still have the HK 2 DVD SE which plays different to how the US version was assembled (even the theatrical cut).
Wow really? So what's that version
2010 - The return of the HK movie industry :)
Image

User avatar
Markgway
Bruce Lee's Fist
Posts: 19709
Joined: 18 Feb 2005, 02:04

Re: Hero (2002)

Unread post by Markgway » 24 Mar 2015, 02:51

The differences between the US/international cut and the HK theatrical cut are very minor; essentially some translations have been simplified. Compared to 99% of what Miramaxe did it's hardly worth bothering about.
Image

User avatar
grim_tales
Bruce Lee's Fist
Posts: 21691
Joined: 25 Oct 2004, 18:34
Location: St. Albans, UK

Re: Hero (2002)

Unread post by grim_tales » 24 Mar 2015, 07:18

Yeah thats right, the opening is very slightly different (I think) with some simpler translation but thats all.

User avatar
luckystars
Royal Tramp
Posts: 1893
Joined: 12 Sep 2005, 09:01

Re: Hero (2002)

Unread post by luckystars » 24 Mar 2015, 10:39

Thanks guys!

Just a shame the Mandarin on the UK Blu is DD only
2010 - The return of the HK movie industry :)
Image

User avatar
luckystars
Royal Tramp
Posts: 1893
Joined: 12 Sep 2005, 09:01

Re: Hero (2002)

Unread post by luckystars » 24 Mar 2015, 14:12

Love the tempo on the original cut of Li vs Yen
http://youtu.be/UE_3wc_1Ndw
2010 - The return of the HK movie industry :)
Image

Post Reply