Hero is not your typical wu xia film, in the sense that, it does not contain much action sequences or fight scenes. There are only a few in the film, and even so, these fight scenes are shot in a manner which is artistic.
Hero may be a confusing film for some as it does not follow the conventional method of storytelling. Not only is the plot told by using flashbacks, it is also told in various different versions. There are 3 different narrators in the film – which presents the audiences with 3 different stories, each with their own personal experiences. This made me question, “Which is the real version? What is the truth?”
For those who hate to rack their brains to understand the story, you should consider giving this film a chance, simply for one reason – it’s beauty. Hero is one the most beautifully shot films I have ever seen, and much of the beauty is made possible by director Zhang Yimou. Originally a cinematographer, Zhang Yimou heavily incorporated the use of different colours to make the film alive.
One particular element that was mentioned numerous times was the relationship between calligraphy and swordsmanship. This could be a motif of the film, trying to reaffirm the traditional Chinese beliefs that calligraphy and swordsmanship share the same principles and that they were both similar in nature.
There is much that I find peculiar about the film, mainly because I have little to no knowledge of Chinese beliefs and philosophy and it is evident that this film was based heavily on those aspects.
But that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy the film. Like I said, it was beautiful. It was unlike any other wu xia film; it was slow paced and the fight scenes were very much similar to that of dancing. Watching those scenes made me feel at ease and relaxed; whereas in other fight scenes in other action films, I would naturally be tensed and eager to see the outcome of the battle between the hero and the villain.