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The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society
Miscellanea and Ephemeron

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08/28/2004 Archived Entry: "Film review: Hero"

I saw "Hero" today, I recommend you go see it on the biggest screen you can find while it's still in theatrical release.

So, I wasn't going to write about "Hero", but then I accidentally read a review I disagreed with:

"Already criticised in some quarters for its theme of unification, implying that mainland China's policy of owning Taiwan and Tibet should be sanctioned, any political message is buried by the film's style-heavy sequences."

I didn't think it was about that. I thought it was about the individual sacrificing for the greater good. The theme of 'Our land' was about ending the endless wars, and the only way one very wise character (okay, three very wise characters) realized to do that was to have the King of Qin be king of all China because he (it seemed) was strong and wise, and therefore, the best bet, no matter what his armies had done. And, c'mon, it was 300 B.C. - endless war, stagnation, the Mongols killing everything in sight - something had to be done. I really didn't think the film propped up modern China's relationships with Taiwan and Tibet. I can't comment on Taiwan because I despise the history of the Kuomintang, Chiang Kai-Sheck and the Soong family and this causes me to have mixed emotions about the country they took over when they were finally chased out of China. On the other hand, Tibet was and is naked aggression and madness and had been hotly condemned by the world, something that could never happen 200 years ago let alone 2,000 years ago. Is "Hero" an allegory of modern times? Nah. Except that it says a lot about seeing, or trying to see the big picture and living for a life greater than the one you know now, and making the sacrifices necessary for a peaceful future. There's more to life than revenge, and a true hero and leader realizes that, however painful, possibly fatal, it might be.

"Rather difficult to judge for its own merits in the wake of Ang Lee's Oscar-nominated film, "Hero" inevitably feels like a Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon wannabe, despite its astounding cast, splendid design and stunning fight work."
Film Reviews

Y'know, it reminded me more of Kurosawa's masterpiece "Ran", than that rather stupid "ain't we artsy?" movie Crouching whatever. Part of my problem with Crouching whatever was that the story wasn't big enough for the production and, also, I admit, I loathed "The Ice Storm."

Last week I saw "Zatoichi" and loved it. However, I do find it a little odd that here we have two sword-centric films and the up-close-and-personal folk tale is an arterial spray-fest, and the epic was very very restrained on the hemoglobin. Interesting (well, to me).


Oh, and, why do people bring their pre-literate spawn to an intense foreign film like this? Why? Anyone know? It really can't just be to annoy moi, can it?

Edit: Nice overview of what's going on in Asian films today:

The neophyte's guide to East Asian film
By Joe Williams
Post-Dispatch Film Critic

Hm, wonder if I can find a reason to be in St. Louis this November.

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