December 27, 2004


Lucy had expressed interest in seeing King Arthur, I think to pacify a small fraction of her deep desire to see another LOTR movie, which ain't forthcoming. Since she was off on Xmas Eve and I wasn't, I suggested that she go find the DVD of the filmic roundtable legend and we would watch it that night. I guess it hasn't been released yet; she didn't find it at Movie Gallery, and instead came home with this.

What an incredible film.

I'm not a movie expert, I just like to watch them. So when she said "Jet Li" in a movie called Hero, I thought she had brought home a pure action Kung Fu hack-em-up flick. How wrong I was. I had no idea that this was a period film set in ancient China.

Oh, there is action, and lots of it. But this action is visual poetry. The sword fights here are like ballet, only better -- more beautiful and expressive than any damn fairies dancing about sugar plums.

If you saw Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and liked it, you must see Hero. CTHD was excellent, but this blows it away.

In Hero, the action is not there just for action's sake. The swordplay dance gives greater depth to the human stories that are at the fable's center. Yimou Zhang has truly created a mythology here -- a legend from which we all can learn. Like great myth, from this we learn about each other, but more about ourselves and our motivations in life and living.

I would love to be able to tell you the story. It could probably be covered in 500 words. But the utter simplicity of Hero's tale allows for the powerful truth it reveals to be exactly that.

This story is told with swords, but also with colors. Each scene is its own color. Once scene will be green, another yellow, red, or pink. This plays a large part in creating the stunning visual that Hero is. They went to some remote and amazingly beautiful areas of central China to shoot.

I love writing about movies that defy description and challenge our language. This film is truly one the most striking works of art that I have ever experienced. The DVD has a short doc about the film, which says that Yimou and his bunch spent 24 months developing the script. Each detail has been carefully considered in the making of this film. I am reminded of the LOTR movies, but that's comparing pomegranates with kiwi fruit. Hero is in a class by itself, as is Peter Jackson's trilogy. The classes are different however. (I think "class" works well there.)

I think I saw this on the IFC or Sundance schedules. Definitely check it out as soon as you can.

Posted by Wayne at December 27, 2004 11:46 AM
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