Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Hero (5 Stars)

Chess, music and calligraphy. Battles can be fought in the mind, not with a sword. Sometimes a true hero is a man who knows when to stop fighting, even if the victory is within his grasp.

This is a very stylish film, a tragedy of epic proportions. The film's most beautiful battles don't actually take place, they are only words or thoughts. When I first saw it in the cinema in 2005 I felt disappointed, but after watching it again I began to appreciate its depth. (The film was made in 2002, but it wasn't shown in England until a few years later, after the success of "House of Flying Daggers").

The entirety of the film takes place in the palace of the Emperor of Qin. A nameless warrior from the kingdom of Zhao recounts stories of his battles to the Emperor. Some of the stories are true, some are false. The Emperor, recognising the lies, replies by telling what he believes really happened. Again, some of his stories are correct, while others aren't.

The cast is outstanding, some of China's best actors: Jet Li, Donnie Yen, Ziyi Zhang, Maggie Cheung and Tony Leung. The film is directed by Zhang Yimou. Or is it Yimou Zhang? I never know what order the names should be. I only realised recently, after watching "Curse of the Golden Flower", that I already own several films directed by him. They are all beautiful films, so I shall have to watch them again, as well as looking for his other films.

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