September 10 -16, 2004 • Vol. 24 - No. 37

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Hero—Many True Heroes, Indeed
by The Maven and the Blonde
Film Columnists


Hero is a true historic tale that stands alone. The film is told through the director’s (Zhang Yimou) amazing, beautiful, visually extravagant, and unique way of storytelling. It is a triumphant masterpiece-quality film about man’s honor, principals, values, pride, love and integrity.

This martial arts epic takes place in ancient China at the dawn of the Qin dynasty. This warring land of factions throughout six kingdoms was struggling before the reign of the fist emperor. These separate kingdoms fought ruthlessly for supremacy. As a result, the populace endured decades of suffering and death. Even though the King of Qin (played by Daoming Chen), the most powerful tyrant ruler of all time, felt it best to unite the kingdoms to make for a bigger and stronger China, a plot was organized to assassinate him. A minor official, who goes by the name of “Nameless,” played by Jet Li (The One), defeated Qin’s three most feared enemies: Moon, Broken Sword, and Flying Snow. “Nameless” was summoned to the great palace to tell the ruler Qin the story of his surprising victories. His stories are puzzle-like mazes of the many possibilities of truth, until we are finally exposed to the real story in the end. Revealing any more than this would simply ruin the film for you. So, go see it!
The Blonde: Hero was like The last Samurai meets Crouching Tiger meets Kill Bill meets Momento. First of all, I want to throw in some Jewish guilt. I am typing this review in the middle of a hurricane, so our readers (who we adore) will know what movie to see next week after cleaning up the mess of Hurricane Frances. Now, with that said, this movie starts out hard to deal with. I found that the sub-titles pass by way too quickly to comfortably read. I only got half of each sentence. In the beginning, I also found the storyline all over the place. However, I advise you to stay. It all changes. You will get used to the fast-paced sub-titles, and the story does all come together beautifully.

The Maven:  Before I begin, I need to know who the heck were you talking to the entire movie? You never shut up!!

The Blonde: I was reading aloud. It helps me to read quicker.

The Maven: Well, it was driving me nuts… Remind me to never see a foreign film with you again!

The Blonde: Ouch! So I’m a slow reader! Well, excuse me! As I was saying, this film was directed by Yimov Zhang so amazingly. It was an absolute delight to watch and hear this gorgeous work of art. He managed to make war scenes original—graceful ballet-type fighting, symbolic, visually artistic, musically perfect, and all accomplished with a uniquely crafted style. His decision to use black and white, slow motion, monochromatic coloring, all cradling nature, intensified the realism and importance of each scene. There were many spiritual moments.  

The Maven: Talk about a visually voluptuous movie, with a different, vibrant hue dominating each sequence!

The Blonde: Voluptuous? There were no voluptuous people sporting skin in this film! I know I had trouble reading but I had no trouble seeing!

The Maven: Each scene was like a picture of art that I would like to put on each wall of my house. The yellows  were yellower, the blues were bluer …

The Blonde:  Yeah, I get it, and the reds were redder! You sound like a Clorox 2 commercial!

The Maven: Well, they were! I can’t convey how much I enjoyed watching this picturesque film.

The Blonde: It was interesting to learn—as we have recently discovered about the Torah—that the sequence of the Chinese letters are coded with a more important message than what is written. In this case the power of the sword.

The Maven: Hero’s swordplay was exciting to watch but, don’t worry, there is no real gore or blood.

The Blonde:  There’s one other thing I truly enjoyed about this film. Wasn’t it terrific the way that the Chinese children respect, listen to and honor their parents and elders? They would never talk back to, or even say no to them. I wonder, Maven, do you think they have boarding schools for American children? Just a pondering thought. Okay, more than a thought!

The Maven: Why do you think my children are so perfect and speak Chinese?

The Blonde: I knew you had a secret!

The Maven: Don’t hesitate to see this movie, as quickly after Hurricane Frances as you can! I loved it and will be seeing it again. I rate it an A!  I also give it ten extra credit points for those yellows and blues, reds and purples!

The Blonde: “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”—or hurricane—I loved Hero as well and also I rate it an A. I suggest that you eat some wontons, Leechee nuts and, yes, some popcorn, too. Enjoy! Maven, this movie really made me hungry. Let’s go do some Chinese food!

The Maven: You’re on! And no sharing!


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