Hero is the recollection from a nameless protagonist on how he slayed the Emperor’s assassins, Broken Sword, Flying Snow and Long Sky. As the story unfolds, it turns out there is more than meets the eye.
My repertoire of seen Chinese films consists of Steven Chow movies and journey to the west adaptations. That being said, I am fully aware of the Chinese film tropes that litter many of said films. This includes cherry blossoms drizzling down from the sky to the way that every Chinese man and woman alive seems to be martial artist prodigies. Regardless of these cringe-worthy tropes, these films were always a highlight during my annual Chinese new year visits. With such a big name Director Zhang Yimou directing this film, I knew that I was up for a memorable experience.
Straight off the bat the film screams huge budget. Hordes of soldiers and scholars fill the screen within the first 10 minutes, each one dressed in highly elaborate costumes. The main protagonist enters the throne room and the main motif of the film becomes apparent. The candles surrounding the emperor acts as a detector of human emotion, wafting and sputtering wildly when it senses blood lust. It is even pointed out by the emperor that he is able to discern potential assassins just by studying the candles’ flame.
The director capitalizes on colors to convey the mood of each scene. In the first flashback, everyone was clad in blood red clothing. This color amplified the impact of the action-packed component because of its intensity. The strong color invokes strong emotions such as passion and anger. This play of color continues on with the following two flashbacks. The second one being blue, a color of tranquillity and peace and white, a neutral color. With the blue themed flashback, barely any conflict occurred. White showed the truth, where both intense and peaceful scenes occurred, devoid of any form of exaggeration. This color coding also serves as a way for viewers to catalogue the scenes, making each scene stand out individually.
The end of the film shows how our unnamed protagonist sacrifices himself for the unification of China. In this way, it is easy to interpret this move as a message to Taiwan, Hong Kong and Tibet. The message would be that although they may have attained independence, they should acquiesce to Beijing. This is in lieu in Chinese culture where the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. Please take note this is just my interpretation.
Overall the film was highly engaging with its well- choreography fight scenes and stellar cast of actors/actresses that fully brought the characters to life. A beautiful movie with a deep message, Hero stands out as film to be remembered for ages to come. 9/10
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