Hero (2002)


Hero (2002)

Director: Zhang Yimou
Starring: Jet Li, Tony Leung, Maggie Cheung

A nameless prefect is presented to the King of Qin for vanquishing the three most skilled assassins targeting his life, but all is not as it seems.

This is a lavish, elegant wuxia epic with gorgeous art direction, stylish fight choreography and an intriguing Rashomon-style plot. There are some especially amazing sequences such as the calligraphy school. For sheer spectacle alone, this is worth seeing.

I must, however, comment on the "tianxia" controversy. I first saw this English dub of this movie several years ago, where "our land" is used at a critical point in the story. I'd heard that this was a mistranslation and the allegations of it being a deliberate mistranslation stuck in my mind. My Chinese isn't that good, but I know what "tianxia" means (literally "under the heavens" as in everything under the heavens) and for either the original filmmakers or the localizers covering this up is shameful deceit and cowardice. The director denies any political subtext, but I don't buy it. A person can have an objectionable message, but he should at least be honest about it.

If this controversy isn't a dealbreaker for you, I recommend giving this a watch.

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