Zhang Yimou (2002)

12A Certificate


Our Score
Chinese master Zhang Yimou's first foray into wuxia (swordplay martial arts) will inevitably invite comparisons with Ang Lee's Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, but Hero could be judged as superior on a number of levels. In a series of Rashomon-style flashbacks, Zhang tells the tale of a nameless warrior (Jet Li) who has apparently risked all to slay a group of assassins intent on killing a powerful warlord. But, while the story is diverting, it's the visuals that dazzle, with each sequence seemingly surpassing the last, both in inventiveness and beauty. Highlights include a battle in a rain-drenched chess arena and another in an autumnal forest, while the pièce de résistance is an astounding midair swordfight conducted above a crystal lake. Christopher Doyle's gorgeous, colour-saturated cinematography complements the gripping tale, though western viewers may be surprised at the film's ultimate theme: a defence of totalitarianism against the chaos and insecurity of freedom.


A warlord in ancient China sends out messengers throughout his kingdom to declare a reward for whoever can kill three assassins intent on murdering him. In response, a warrior arrives at the ruler's palace and claims that he has already defeated the would-be killers, but his story does not quite ring true. Martial arts adventure, starring Jet Li, Tony Leung Chiu Wai and Maggie Cheung Man-Yuk. In Mandarin.

Cast & Crew

Nameless Jet Li
Broken Sword Tony Leung (2)
Flying Snow Maggie Cheung
Moon Zhang Ziyi
King Chen Dao Ming
Sky Donnie Yen
Director Zhang Yimou
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Other Information

Language: Mandarin +subtitlesColourTheatrical distributor: Buena VistaGuidance: Violence.Available on: video, DVD and Blu-rayReleased on: 24 Sep 2004