Saturday, September 25, 2004

Film — Hero

A 2002-dated film from Yimou Zhang, previously known for more subdued films like Red Sorghum, that seems to have taken off in the States despite subtitling, and now doing the round here.

In terms of what goes on, it's probably safe to say that it's a little bit Rashomon meets Crouching Tiger, and go no more lest spoilers abound. There is plenty of OTT martial arts action, including a duel in an autumn wood, amongst drifts of fallen and falling leaves, where one character manifests a technique that I would label Hurricane Sword and assign as an Orlanthi magical technique for HeroQuest.

The scenery is taken from a range of different parts of China, from western desert to lakes amongst green wooded hills, and the scenes are always wonderfully colour-coordinated, a different colour for each separate layer of narrative. However there were points where I found the visuals just feeling like padding - in particular, there was one "get on with it" bit about halfway through where we had a minute or so of the Qin army riding that added nothing to the film that a brief fade to black would not also have done. And visual to the extent that apart from the very first fight scene, where there is an old man playing a zither, that the background music failed to make a conscious impression on me (I am told that it was Itzak Perlman violin in some places).

However, on balance, a good film, one I'm glad to have seen, and enough to make me add seeing his next, House of Flying Daggers (which was trailed before the showing), to the things that I can reward myself with for survivng the rest of the year at work with my sanity intact, though not a great one - I would put it a notch behind Warriors of Heaven and Earth in terms of story.

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