Hero (Ying xiong)

No quarrel here with the raves for Hero, a 2003 Oscar nominee for Best Foreign Language Film, just now being released in America. Director Zhang Yimou packs this visual ast with fierce action and breathtaking beauty. Just don't expect another Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Ang Lee's classic film from 2000 had an emotional core to steady s thrilling spectacle. Hero, based on the King of Qin's attempts to unify the rring states of China in the third century B.C. and become its first emperor, ravishes the e without quite touching the heart. Jet Li in rare form — as Nameless, a sheriff o visits the Qin King (Chen Dao Ming) in his palace to collect his prize. Nameless claims has killed the three assassins who posed the greatest threat to the ruler. They are Sky onnie Yen), Snow (Maggie Cheung) and Broken Sword (Tony Leung). The story of their defeat told in flashback. Actually there are four stories — each with its own color scheme — audiences are left to decide the truth for themselves, as in Akira Kurosawa's 1950 sterwork Rashomon. The fight scenes are riveting and cinematographer Christopher yle (In the Mood for Love) shoots everything from soaring arrows to falling leaves th a poet's eye. The actors bring all the heat they can to the love triangle involving ow, Broken Sword and his servant Moon, played by gorgeous Zhang Ziyi of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Rob Marshall's upcoming Memoirs of a Geisha. But the lm never musters the intimate feel the gifted director brought to such early films as Raise the Red Dragon and Ju Dou. You cheer his accomplishment in Hero thout ever feeling close to it.

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