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Rating: PG-13

Jet Li as Nameless
Tony Leung Chiu Wai as Broken Sword
Maggie Cheung as Flying Snow
Ziyi Zhang as Moon
Daoming Chen as King of Qin
Donnie Yen as Sky
Liu Zhong Yuan as Scholar
Zheng Tia Yong as Old Servant
Yan Qin as Prime Minister
Chang Xiao Yang as General
Zhang Ya Kun as Commander

Special Features:
“Hero Defined” – a look at the epic masterpiece


Inside the Action: A Conversation with Quentin Tarantino & Jet Li

Other Info:
Widescreen (2.35:1)
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
DTS 5.1 Digital Surround Sound
Chinese, French and English Languages
English and Spanish Subtitles
Running Time: 99 Minutes

The following is the official description of the DVD:

“Master filmmaker Quentin Tarantino presents HERO — starring martial arts legend Jet Li in a visually stunning martial arts epic where a fearless warrior rises up to defy an empire and unite a nation! With supernatural skill … and no fear … a nameless soldier (Jet Li) embarks on a mission of revenge against the fearsome army that massacred his people. Now, to achieve the justice he seeks, he must take on the empire’s most ruthless assassins and reach the enemy he has sworn to defeat! Acclaimed by critics and honored with numerous awards, HERO was nominated for both an Oscar® (2002 Best Foreign Language Film) and Golden Globe!”

This DVD is rated PG-13 for stylized martial arts violence and a scene of sensuality.

The Movie:
I missed Hero when it came out in theaters, but thanks to the hype I was interested in seeing it on DVD. I generally enjoy foreign martial arts films when they are done right and Hero certainly fell into that category. It not only featured cool fight scenes but every moment in the film had an epic look to it, the imagery was quite impressive, and the story was engaging.

If you’ve seen Jet Li movies before then you already know he can do some pretty cool stuff in action films. Hero is no exception. He has a cool battle with Donnie Yen as Sky. This represents a re-teaming of the two for a martial arts sequence. Their fight in the rain with sword and spear was quite impressive. Later on Li teams with Maggie Cheung as Flying Snow to swat thousands upon thousands of arrows out of the sky. There are so many arrows that it almost becomes ridiculous, but there’s no denying that it looks cool. Li later battles Tony Leung Chiu Wai as Broken Sword in the sky over a lake. They float and glide over the still surface as they exchange sword blows. It’s very reminiscent of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. In fact, many aspects of this film are similar to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Both are epic in scale. Both feature a large cast. Both feature women who kick butt. Both feature Ziyi Zhang. This time she plays Moon and she also has a memorable fight with Maggie Cheung. The two fight among a swirling cloud of yellow leaves while wearing bright red outfits. It’s visually quite impressive and one of the more memorable scenes from the film.

That brings me to another interesting aspect of the movie – the use of color. The story jumps around in time and it is told from a variety of points of view. Each time that point of view changes, the main colors of the scenes also change. They go from red settings and costumes to green to blue, etc. It’s not only an interesting storytelling device but it adds an artistic element to this action film that you wouldn’t typically expect.

Hero also features a lot of beautiful, remote settings from China. The scenes take place in the desert, the mountains, the forests, and the city. It all helps to give the film a very exotic, epic feel.

The Extras:
There are a few bonus features included on this DVD:

“Hero Defined” – This is a 30 minute long “making of” feature. They interview all the cast and crew and discuss the scenery, the fight scenes, the story, the remote locations, the music, and more. They go from speaking English to Chinese repeatedly, but you get a clear, in-depth look at the making of the movie.

Storyboards – You can watch some of the scenes with the original storyboards next to them.

Inside the Action: A Conversation with Quentin Tarantino & Jet Li – Tarantino interviews Li for this feature. They discuss his old flicks as well as Hero. I liked the fact that they managed to include clips from those old movies as well. They made me a bit more interested in checking them out.

The Bottom Line:
If you liked Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon or if you’re a fan of Jet Li, then you’re pretty much guaranteed to enjoy Hero.