Hero is a visually stunning martial arts film written and directed by the legendary Zhang Yimou. It follows a character referred to simply as “Nameless” (Jet Li), who recounts his heroic feats to the King of Qin (Chen Daoming).
However, the plot is not as straightforward as this synopsis might suggest. Despite its complexity, I found the film’s narrative enjoyable and easy to understand. In fact, I would argue that the complexity adds to the film’s appeal, as part of the fun is trying to decipher the meaning of each plot and their background politics and philosophy.
Thankfully, the film’s cinematography makes it easy to follow along visually. The film is unique and features rich and expressive colour symbolism, epic costume designs, mesmerizing choreography, and a score that manages to be both serene and intense at varying and appropriate moments, all of which add up to a beautiful and satisfactory cinematic experience.
However, some barriers may prevent some viewers from enjoying the film. The first is that some of the characters can sometimes be somewhat stereotypical, with overly dramatic dialogue. Despite this, the actors, including Jet Li, Tony Leung, Maggie Cheung, Zhang Ziyi, and Chen Daoming, deliver strong and memorable performances that are hard not to be moved by.
The second barrier is the film’s pacing. While I generally prefer slow-paced films, there were moments where I felt the narrative unfolded as if it could never run out of run time.
Overall, if you can look past these barriers and are in the mood to enjoy a film that delivers a masterclass experience in visual storytelling, then you definitely need to watch Hero.