For a couple of years now, word on the street has been touting a martial arts film that would become the crowning achievement of the genre, a film of intense beauty and majesty, surpassing Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon in all aspects. That film is Zhang Yimou’s Hero, starring, of all people, Jet Li; it is already an artistic success. (It was nominated for a Best Foreign Film Oscar a couple of years ago.) Is it better than Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon? In my opinion, no. Is it a film that deserves high regard within the genre, making it pretty damn impressive in its own right? You bet. Yimou, through the use of the flashbacks, is able to stage multiple fight scenes with the same opponents, the color schemes and character motivations changing each time. This tactic is both brilliant and occasionally tedious. The visuals are always impressive, but the movie is not for those who like their martial artists with their feet planted firmly on the ground. Yes, the fighters fly around, Crouching Tiger-style.


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