It’s so pretty…Yawn
Hero (Ying Xiong) (2002): 4 out of 10: At the time I first reviewed Hero it was ranked 131st all-time favorite on IMDB and was considered a masterpiece on the level of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.
Time has not been kind to Hero as it is now often forgotten. Google lists it below Scooby-Doo in their examples of wire-fu movies. A greater shame one cannot imagine.
I can’t help to think I might have been harsh in my review or at least my score. I give out sevens like candy to three guys in a gym beat them ups like Never Back Down: No Surrender and here I am dissing a spectacular-looking Kung Fu movie because it lacks characterization? Have I not just seen and enjoyed Fist of Fury a film with Bruce Lee doing a Jerry Lewis impersonation? Why did Hero rub me the wrong way?
This movie reminds me of that old computer game Myst. Very pretty to look at with every frame a painting doused with incredible color. And yet there is no hook, nothing to hang one’s hat on. Fist of Fury may be an awful movie, but it is an awful movie with an incredible Bruce Lee performance that makes it worth the watch.
Speaking of not aging well…the movie puts together huge armies and then has them sit around or shoot a volley of CGI arrows at one building. They might as well be a crowd at a football game. This was a big deal in special effects (most famously in Troy), and it has subsequently lost a lot of its luster from overuse.
Add in characters I was just unable to connect to, overuse of that flying kung fu that removes any thought of realism magic or otherwise, and the sense of waste is palatable. Other dings include a musical score that will drive you nuts and a story told in flashback that saps what little dramatic energy there is.
Hero is a frustrating movie since the lack of emotional investment keeps one at such a distance that all you can do is admire the pretty pictures. Credit where credit is due they deliver those pretty pictures in spades.