Just saw Hero-Thoughts (Spoilers)

I just saw Hero. Very good movie, incredible wire work, amazing cinematography, loved it. But… I really disliked the ending. It seems to me that the “moral” of the story is crude propaganda- almost faschist. Basically, it says that a leader acting on behalf of the greater good may do anything to advance that good, regardless of consequences for individuals. To wit, one can imagine the current Chinese leadership using exactly the same arguments to justify Tianamen Square and the repression of Falun Gong and other religion minorities and political dissadents. It’s an appealling idea, in the context of the movie, but, in the end, a morally bankrupt one.

Anyone else have thoughts?

Yep. It’s propaganda. In the sense of “It’s a wonderful life”, not “Triumph of the Will”, but propaganda all the same (I wonder if China finds the common Western theme of “follow your heart and society be dammned” just as jarring). It’s not a communist thing, or even really a modern theme, Chinese art is full of people dying for morally nebulous causes, just being hit head-on by the culture shock.

Jet Li is Jesus. He walked on water and died for your sins. :smiley:

It’s probably worth pointing out that it was in fact made in China, and its plot was approved by the Chinese Government. Still, a beautiful and entertaining film.

Yeah, I agree that the moral is rather wrong-headed, but I think Zhang Yimou was probably sick of running into trouble with the Chinese gov’t for his films so he decided to do a movie that he wanted to make, but that also wouldn’t get him any interference from the gov’t.

Chris Doyle’s cinematography was brilliant (Zhang Yimou has consistently made some of the most beautiful films of the last 15-20 years). Seeing all the great actors (Jet Li, Maggie Cheung, Donnie Yen, Tony Leung and Zhang Ziyi) was fun, but I don’t think any of the performances would rank in my top-whatever lists for any of the actors. I heard Jackie Chan was offered the “King of Qin” part which, as much as I love Jackie, would’ve been weird and wrong.

I don’t know what I think of the movie as a whole though. Maybe it was my expectations from hearing raves about it for two years, but I wasn’t as blown away as I hoped I’d be. The story was rather underwhelming and I didn’t particularly enjoy the fights. I at least think it is much better than Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. I might see Hero again to see if it will grow on me.

My understanding is that this is the standard way that the founding of the Qin (formerly Chin) dynasty is handled in Chinese history and folklore. It’s somewhat comparable to extolling the founding fathers in the U.S. as being high-minded lovers of individual freedom rather than petty slave-owning traitors. (Or thinking of the Trojan war as noble instead of whiny macho bloodletting. It’s all in the angle of the lens you see things through.)

I was less than enthused about the story of Hero, although it helps a lot if you think of it as a folk tale. I have no interest in fight scenes, so even though these were well done I was also glad that they were comparatively short.

The spectacular cinematography, art direction and set design are the reasons that everybody should go see the film. There are very few films I would ever recommend on the basis of visuals alone, but this is high on that list.

The scenes were so beautiful that I didn’t just watch them, it seemed as if I had to, well I don’t know, drink them with my eyes or something abstract. Damn I wish I was more poetic.

If you read The Three Kingdoms (kinda like Ancient Greek Classics for the Chinese) you’ll see that individual action hero (wuxia) vs submit to the collective is a tension. Oddly, wuxia novels are often about individuals following their own vision. Hero falls out with that vision with its ending. Yes, this ending pleases the Chinese and ticked off my Taiwanese friends. However, the movie has many fine “messages” in it, especially the one about the three stages of being a “warrior” which lines up with the three stages of the story. In this way, as is true of the character Sky who doesn’t die but gives up martial arts (in the text at the end it says this), Jet Li’s decision is not one of approval of the King but of agreeing that bloodletting by him won’t solve anything. Afterall, would the warring states period just stop if he kills his enemy? No. Li’s character (Nameless) is not hoping to end these wars, just get back out of petty revenge. Thus, his change at the end is to realize it won’t matter if he kills the Qin emporer (who was played by a real forceful actor! who is that guy? love his voice).

So, I think the film placades the government, but it would be silly to think that’s the real message. Otherwise, why go through the whole tale of the movie to get to such a simple point?

Oh, two other movies on the story of assasination attemps on the Qin emporer are “Emporer’s Shadow” and Emporer and the Assasin. I think those titles are right, Neflix is down right now. :smack: