Hero

"How swift your sword must be."

Zhang Yimou had always wanted to direct an action film, and after years of working on the script, he finally had his chance with his ambitious visual feast, 2002’s Hero. Shot all over China starring some of the hottest Chinese stars telling a story about the assassination attempt on the King of Qin several thousand years ago, the film was the most expensive project in China’s history. Luckily, it also became the highest-grossing up to that point. Considering the last two films we talked about on the show were banned for years, it’s great to see Zhang and China finding a common ground with this film. Join us – Pete Wright and Andy Nelson – as we continue our Zhang Yimou series with 2002’s Hero.

We talk about what this film does as far as depicting a true story, but done in a way that allows Zhang to try his hand at action (with help from action director Tony Ching). We look at all of Zhang’s filmmaking techniques that he throws at this film – the colors, the shot compositions, the shot lengths, the operatic quality – and how well they work. We discuss Jet Li, Tony Leung, Maggie Cheung, Zhang Ziyi and Donnie Yen and what they all bring to the table here. And we discuss how Miramax not only delayed the film’s release numerous times but also made the egregious decision to replace Jet Li’s character’s sword in the poster with something else incorrect for the period, only to try to connect it to Quentin Tarantino and his Kill Bill films.

It’s a gorgeous film that tells a beautiful and tragic story, but one that would still be incredibly easy to return to. So check out the movie then tune in!

Film Sundries

Trailers of the Week

  • Andy's Trailer: The Blackcoat’s Daughter — "While this may not have the best IMDb rating, it has a creepy enough vibe for me to be drawn to it. Plus it has a creepy reading of an old timey poem, which makes the trailer creepy and makes the movie seem even creepier. So yeah, I’ll probably watch this one."
  • Pete's Trailer: The Bad Batch — "I’m trying to gin up my horror mojo. No idea what to make of this latest bid from writer/director Ana Lily Amirpour. Dark, cannibals, saws, Keanu Reeves, Jason Momoa, and Giovanni Ribisi. Not the latest thing I would have expected from any of them, thus, the thing I’m most interested to see from all of them."