Let’s delve into a lesser known genre called the wuxia film, shall we? For my Wuxia-a-thon, we’ll be looking at Chinese martial arts films that treat the martial aspect as a true art form; think Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, which I’ll get to soon, but first up is one of the many wuxia films to sprout up in the wake of that particular flick. I initially overlooked Hero for that reason, thinking it was just another copycat, and in ways it is, though not yet having seen Crouching Tiger yet I can’t say to what extent, but I’m sure the aspects are there. It’s still a very interesting and entertaining film in its own right.
The fight scenes are beautifully and impressively choreographed, but that’s what they are: choreographed fights. I found it harder and harder to suspend my disbelief whenever the fighters broke the laws of physics, which was often, as impressive as the fights were to watch. That is the key selling point behind the film; the fight sequences, featuring some of the most well-known foreign martial arts masters slash actors of world cinema. The film also uses color to an extraordinary extent. Normally I’d be put off by the overbearing use of color grading, but here it is utilized the way it should be; to set the mood and lay the scene without feeling like you’re drowning in the color. Sure, there’s plenty of color on the frame, but most of it’s practical, either through lighting or through physical objects that embody the color; not fake color correction that we see in so many movies nowadays, this is color done right.
Hero started off as the most expensive production in Chinese history, and went on to become the highest grossing film in Chinese history, so that says a lot about the success of Crouching Tiger, but also that this film had to have done something right to garner so much appraisal, and indeed it does. The story is told in a very uncommon fashion, and it works in the frame of the film. If you’re a fan of Crouching Tiger and want to see more, this is definitely one to spend your time on. If this isn’t your sort of thing, I doubt this will change your mind, but who knows? You might find something about it that you’ll end up liking.
Arbitrary Rating: 8/10