Hero - A review
The Chinese movie Hero, with its excellent cast, brilliant storyline and visuals so remarkable they will leave you gasping with unique surprises and delights. Probably this is one of the rarest movie which shows the other good side of a tyrannical monarchy.
Hero is reportedly the most expensive Chinese movie ever made. Set 2,000 years ago and based on historic events, the film takes place at a time when China was divided into seven kingdoms. The ruthless king of Qin (Chen Daoming) wants to unite them under his rule, much to the dismay of rebels from other provinces who send assassins to the palace to show their displeasure. Such threats leave the king understandably nervous and in need of extreme security measures.
The film opens, when the King has learned that his three most deadly enemies have been vanquished by the humble sheriff Nameless (Jet Li). Nonetheless, Nameless' bravery earns him piles of gold and a private audience at the palace, during which he describes how he tricked and thwarted the best three warriors in the land. He portrays the story of his adventure of killing the assassinates to protect the king. The movie takes a beautiful turn when the king does not buy the story of Nameless and reveals the fact that nameless is in fact who with his story can approach the king and assassinate him.
The action travels back and forth in time as Nameless weaves his extraordinary tale, and we meet the dangerous Sky (Donnie Yen) and the lovers Broken Arrow and Snow (Tony Leung and Maggie Cheung). We also meet Broken Arrow's servant Moon (Zhang Ziyi), who can also wield her sword in a most lethal manner. This narration is shown in red colors. Next the King tells him that there is no truth in the story and he gives his version of the story in green. There is other versions of white and blue.
Finally the question is who is the Hero of the movie? Many attribute to the name-less, some to Sky or to broken arrow.
Peace, the Hero
But isn't "Peace" the real Hero?. Because it is for peace the king does unification of the kingdom and curbs terrorists or assassins. The beauty of the movie is that including the audience, the characters like Nameless, broken arrow and snow, as the movie progresses, learns the Truth that the King was really doing all this for peace of china. For this peace each one of them sacrifices their life. Broken arrow was the first to realize this truth about peace and so gives up chance of assassinating the king. By the end his wife Snow also realizes but by that time she had to give her life up also.
Nameless who came to assassinate the king finally understand the Truth that the King though his tyrannical rule was actually maintaining peace in the China. So he the leaves the King untouched. The King gains respect of Nameless but tragically had to kill the Nameless. Why?. The very same reason to maintain peace. If nameless was left un-killed, it would allow mushrooming of other terrorist to an assassinate the king.
The message of the movie in life is that we are all seeking Peace. There is a dialogue which says that the art of calligraphy and swordsmanship is the same because both seeks for peace. A calligrapher holds a brush for inner peace and so is a swordsman raising sword for peace. This is the beautiful message and symbolism of the movie Hero.
The art of "action" is stunningly portrayed by the the cool observing act of Snow as opposed to emotionally charged Moon. One stroke of sword through awareness is powerful than the charging wasteful actions of the restless emotional mind. This is another powerful expression of the movie while giving the great message of peace. So the external war is the same of the internal war towards peace. Hats off to the director Zhang Yimou.