Screened as part of NZIFF 2004
The director of Raise the Red Lantern transforms the martial arts genre, in the Festival’s most awesome spectacle. Shot by the great Chris Doyle and re-uniting the world’s most potent screen couple, In the Mood for Love’s Tony Leung and Maggie Cheung, the film has been a mega-hit in Asia. Now the rest of the world can see why.
“One of the most ravishing and formally well-realised films in recent memory. In 3rd century BC China a lone fighter, Nameless (Jet Li), arrives at the King of Qin’s palace to a hero’s welcome, having defeated Qin’s most dangerous enemies. He’s granted an audience in order to relate his exploits, but Nameless is an unreliable narrator who intends to kill the king. The fight sequences are replete with fantastical, lighter-than-air movements and the crowd and battle scenes are of an extraordinary scale and grandeur.” — Demetrious Matheou, Sight & Sound
“Hero is alive with Chinese history, electrified by the dizzying sensuality of its convoluted love triangle and ennobled by its acknowledgement of basic Taoist principles (indeed, trust is the film’s weapon of choice). The color-coded set pieces suggest the film’s art department and superstar cinematographer Chris Doyle are feng shui enthusiasts and while green curtains seem to exist solely so they could fall deliriously to the ground, there’s still an overwhelming sense here that the power of the sword is inextricably linked to the forces of color and nature.” — Ed Gonzalez, Slant Magazine
“Zhang Yimou may have dipped his cinematic pen in ‘mere’ genre, but in doing so, he has inscribed a masterpiece.” — Richard Corliss, Time Magazine