I went and saw Hero last week (the U.S. release of 2002’s Ying Xiong). The short review: Movie good. Me like.
If you liked Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, you’ll love this. In fact, if you liked Lord of the Rings or Akira Kurosawa films, you’ll love it. It has a mythical quality to it, and it is filled with magical fight scenes that are the focus of much of the story yet don’t overwhelm it or turn it into a “kung fu” movie.
Jet Li is awesome as the lead character, a guy with no name, who gets an audience with the King after killing three notorious assassins. Even better are Daoming Chen as the King and the two main assassins–Tony Leung Chiu Wai (Broken Sword) and Maggie Cheung (Flying Snow).
The story is the fantasized history of the unification of China under Qin Shi Huangdi (King Zheng of Qin). When China was split into seven kingdoms, the Kingdom of Qin rose to prominence by brutally defeating the others under Zheng. Jet Li’s character meets with the king after defeating the great assassins, and the story of how he did it is told from different perspectives–the nameless hero’s, the king’s, and the truth. Each perspective is highlighted by a different primary color, adding to the visual impact. It is a beautiful film with a great story.