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“Zhang Yimou sounds defensive when he speaks of Hero as ‘a genre piece.’ The implication is: just a diversion, a long sword fight played by grownups. Zhang is underestimating both the power of the movie-epic form and his ability to inhabit and revive it. For Hero is a lucid and cunning drama: ancient history (3rd century B.C.) refracted through a modern skeptic’s sensibility. It views the birth of a nation through the murky motives of some of the first Emperor’s potential assassins. For they are as duplicitous in their emotional lives as in their fatal politics. “The plot is a series of tales told by the warrior Nameless (Jet Li) to the Qin King (Chen Daoming). Any or none of the stories may be true; this is Rashomon with a Mandarin accent. But the moral, or rather the ethic, is as clear as it is bleak: man must make war to secure the peace.“Nameless has three main adversaries: Sky (Donnie Yen), a master martial artist he defeats in the film’s first, superb battle scene; Broken Sword (Tony Leung Chiu-wai), a calligrapher who is as adroit with a brush as with a sabre; and Flying Snow (Maggie Cheung), Broken Sword’s soul mate. Flying Snow has a side skirmish of her own with Moon (Zhang Ziyi), Broken Sword’s smitten apprentice. Loyalties are tested, alliances made and sundered. Death is the price for betrayal – of the King or the heart.“Thoughtful and resonant, here is a story of noble insurgence against noble fidelity, and of the ways love may find its fulfillment only in death. Zhang Yimou may have dipped his cinematic pen in ‘mere’ genre, but in doing so, he has inscribed a masterpiece.� – Richard Corliss, Time
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Directed by: 
Zhang Yimou
Running Time: 
Jet Li, Tony Leung Chiu-wai, Maggie Cheung, Donnie Yen, Zhang Ziyi, Chen Daoming
Screenplay by: 
Li Feng, Zhang Yimou, Wang Bin

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