Kung Fu Fridays: Hero

So far in this edition of Kung Fu Fridays, we have explored some off-kilter fare together. They are films that I love but I love them sort of in spite of themselves. This week though, this week the movie I want to share with you is one of, if not the most to be honest, visually arresting films I have ever seen. The film this week is Hero starring Jet Li.

Released in 2002, Hero is a traditional Chinese Wuxia film directed by Zhang Yimou. At the time of its release it was the highest grossing and most expensive film ever produced in China. It took another two years before it hit American shores thanks to Quentin Tarantino and Miramax films. The plot revolves around Nameless (Jet Li) traveling to the capital of Qin to meet the king. The king desperately wants to unite the warring factions across China. Because of this, he has become the object of many an assassin’s blade surviving an attempt by three uniquely talented individuals, Long Sky, Flying Snow, and Broken Sword. Due to the recent attempt on his life, the king put certain security measures in place including not allowing anyone to get within 100 paces of him. Nameless, knowing the rules, brings the weapons of the three warriors and lays them before the king. The king, in a questionable-at-best decision, allows Nameless to approach him and tell him the story of how a simple prefect was able to kill all three assassins. And here is where the film really kicks off. Each time Nameless tells his story to the king, we get a flashback. Most everything in the flashback is a specific color. The richness of the colors used is truly breathtaking and gives the film a magical quality. (seriously watch this on bluray, it’s cinemaphile porn) Each time the story is told the color changes. And each time Nameless tells his account, the king responds giving the film a very Rashomon feeling. (Rashoman being the extremely excellent Akira Kurosawa film) The king, rightly so, does not believe everything Nameless tells him. I will not spoil the twists and turns of the film as they are beautifully done and I could not do them justice here. Needless to say, Nameless is not exactly upfront with the king and does indeed intend to kill him. However, he is convinced otherwise and decides to spare the kings life. The film ends with one of the most spectacular shots ever put to film. It is the perfect ending to an incredible film.

The martial arts on display in Hero come from the time when “wire-fu” was all the rage. This film came out after Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and borrowed from some of its style. While that type of kung fu is not my favorite what is done here is done very well. It fits with the overall aesthetic of the film and never feels out of place. The sword fighting is some of the best I’ve seen. Everything about this movie is done with such love and care that it is hard not to be taken in by it. I remember the first time seeing this in a theater and being absolutely blown away. Watching it again on DVD was a revelation and on Blu Ray, a masterpiece. It is the film I show to people who say that they don’t like Kung Fu films. Nine times out of ten, they are swayed. If you have never seen this film, drop everything you are doing, except if you are holding a baby… I’m not a monster, and watch the hell out of this. If you have seen this movie but it’s been awhile, then you drop everything as well. Check the trailer below and then head here for part one and here for part two. But really, you should watch this on Blu, it is the best way to experience it. Make sure to follow me on twitter, @geekadedan, and let me know what you thought of Hero and to check back here next week for another classic Kung Fu flick. Until then…

JET LI – HERO – OFFICIAL MOVIE TRAILER 2002… by fabiankolman

Dan Ryan

Dan Ryan was once the most feared and respected luchador in the world until the "Great DDT Disaster of '85" where Dan unfortunately DDT'd his opponent so hard into the ground that he opened a gate to the underworld that let unholy things into this world. After that, Dan refused to wrestle anymore but he's found new life writing and talking about his favorite hobbies here at Geekade. He pens the weekly Why I Love Wrestling series, co-hosts The Stone Age Gamer Podcast, expertly pairs video games with beer, and much, much more. Dan is a personality that Geekade simply would not be the same without.

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