February 8, 2005

I finally had the chance to check out Hero, the chinese folk tale that ranked high on the “best of 2004” lists for a lot of people. Overall, I enjoyed the movie. Perhaps because I’d heard it talked up so much I came out of it somewhat less impressed than I thought I’d be.

The acting in the film was of high quality, if subdued. The roles portrayed in the film weren’t as explored as fully as I might have liked to see, but the essence of each of the main characters came across through the fight scenes and background information made available to the audience.

The sets were simply amazing. While the wirework was competent and the martial arts well choreographed, the true art of this film was the set piece locations in which the fights took place. A funeral bier on a pond, a clearing strewn with fallen leaves, and a simple sandy pit all become somehow more mysterious and grand thanks to the incredible care taken in putting them together.

The editing and camerawork were also stunning and imparted a mystical, dreamlike quality to the picture.

As the artistic retelling of a Chinese folk tale, I enjoyed it. Given that I wasn’t expecting that when I rented it and began watching it, I simply wasn’t in the right frame of mind. My understanding grew as I watched, though, and I came away pleased by the beauty of the story.

I’m not sure I’d want to watch the movie again soon, but for a quiet Friday night at home Hero was just the ticket.

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