Ying xiong / Hero (2002) - An intellectually, philosophically and visually challenging masterpiece - 9/10 (20/07/16)
"Hero" is one of the very best wu xia movies since the beginning of the new millennium. This movie isn't just recommendable for fans of Chinese period movies but for anyone who admires creative cinema.
Zhang Yimou's masterpiece convinces with an unusual story line. The movie focuses on the mysterious meeting between a prefect who claims to have defeated the empire's three most dangerous assassins and the careful, clever and philosophical emperor himself. The first third of the movie explains the prefect's version of the story. The second third focuses on the emperor's analysis of the story. The last third finally reveals what really happened.
If you think that the movie might be repetitive because the same story is told from three different perspectives, you are wrong. Each story builds upon the previous version and only adds new elements. This unusual structure adds a mysterious and even surreal vibe to the movie. This film comes around with a few clever twists and turns but the epic conclusion reveals everything the viewer needs to know.
The mysterious and philosophical message and vibe of the movie is supported by one of the best cinematographies ever done in cinema. Zhang Yimou works a lot with different colours and their meanings such as white for innocence, red for passion, green for hope, blue for dignity or black for darkness. The different settings and landscapes also add to the movie since key scenes take place inside a bare palace that represents isolation, a blue lake that represents spirituality or a hot desert that represents loneliness. The settings and costumes are in perfect harmony with the slow and precise camera work and a calm and spiritual soundtrack. The fighting scenes blend in very well and have a surreal touch where mental strength is much more efficient than physical power. The different characters are flying through bamboo forests or over peaceful lakes and are constantly using their natural surroundings to fight their opponents. This movie symbolizes the harmony of men and nature, underlines the efficiency of mental strength and delivers a message of community and peace where the greater good for an entire empire is more significant than the fate of a single person, family, location, race or ideology. These messages are delivered in a mostly grounded and intellectual way and only the final scenes feel a little bit melodramatic and slightly pathetic.
In the end, "Hero" is much more than a simple martial arts movie. It's one of the most intellectually, philosophically and visually profound movies of the new millennium. This film has a heart, soul and different messages that are at least interesting to analyze, empathize with and understand no matter if you end up agreeing or disagreeing with them. Anybody who considers him- or herself intellectual should have watched this unique masterpiece.« Shi mian mai fu / House of Flying Daggers (2004) - An emotional drama carried by superb actors - 7/10 (20/07/16)My favorite movies and more »
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