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msilverstar

I saw a movie! (Jet Li's "Hero")

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Aug. 31st, 2004 | 12:21 am

My mom's to deliver the kidlet (it was 20 degrees F hotter where she lives) and then dinner out with t'husband and the big kid and then we went to see Hero (aka Ying xiong)


I'm not quite sure how I feel about it. It was clearly magical, more of an opera or a ballet than anything realistic. Calligraphers avoiding flights of arrows, stuff like that.

The whole look is beautiful, of course, very much like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, with lots of wirework fighting and dancing fabric. My teenager liked the swirling leaves and the amazing fight on the lake. The scale of it is great, lots of landscape shots and huge armies. Couldn't tell what was CGI and what was extras at all. Part of the last scene in the Emperor's throne room reminded me of the great hall of Barad-Dur in FOTR (movie version) as the retainers all skittered back and forth.

The story is very odd, it's told in several different layers of reality, with nonlinear color coding, vaguely like Rashamon. But I quite liked the different explanations for the same events.

I don't watch action movies and I don't like swordfights as such, so I got bored with those parts, though they didn't drag it out too long.

The actors were very interesting, though by necessity, fairly static when they weren't fighting. There was a lot of exposition which is part of the formalized operatic aspect of it. The music was very effective, I'm almost always annoyed by movie music (including LOTR) but I liked this a lot.

MAJOR PLOT SPOILER HERE: There's a pervading political message to this story that made me very uncomfortable. The constant repetition of the importance of China being a single state bothered me. Nameless, Sky, and Broken Sword are convinced of this idea without a whole lot of evidence, they just suddenly agree to the proposition that The people have suffered years of warfare. Only the King of Qin can stop the chaos by uniting all under Heaven. It's so much a part of Chinese culture, reflexive imperialism, that the director might not understand my distress -- but the people of Tibet, Vietnam, Taiwan and Korea would. (I write this acknowledging that the USA is equally arrogant and imperialist these days, dammit.)

I'm also deeply annoyed that men and women are treated so differently. The men can see the "big picture" and think theoretically, but the women, both Flying Snow and Moon, are entirely focused on their men. Snow decides on revenge because of her father; Moon's actions are all because of Broken Sword. The distinction is unnecessary and annoying and it takes away from my pleasure in the female swordfighting.

Finally, I want to point out gratuitous destruction of library stacks. Naughty! Show off your swordsmanship elsewhere, boyo.

A movie worth seeing, but keep in mind that it makes solutions seem obvious and simple, when they never are. Tolkien is a lot better about the complexities, one of the reasons I love him so much.

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Comments {4}

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from: pir8fancier
date: Aug. 31st, 2004 06:54 am (UTC)
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ooohhh, thanks. On my list. Maybe this weekend. Need some escaping. Big time.

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Lotripper

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from: msilverstar
date: Aug. 31st, 2004 09:05 am (UTC)
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Definitely excellent escapism!

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Oh, hi.

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from: pink_pants
date: Aug. 31st, 2004 09:53 am (UTC)
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it has been touted as an "Antiwar" flick, but personally, I didn't see it that way. i couldn't help but question it. i know it may seem out there, but, i felt it was almost as if it were a "propaganda" film, albeit a beautifully shot and clever one (with a gorgeous cast, indeed).

i just couldn't help but see it that way (the whole idea of giving up ones individual thoughts and feelings for the greater whole, etc.) the idea of instead of having several smaller groups, it's better to have one big mighty group (that comes, invades and takes them all over leaving one whole "united" land). not necessarily "communism" but - well, being that it is a Chinese film, that idea is understandable. I'm not knocking the movie. i guess i just don't see how it's being literally called "Antiwar" that's all.

i saw the ultimate point of "united land". they felt they needed to unite the groups to help fight off the likes of Ghengis Kan, etc., (hence the Great Wall), but i still cringe at the "make war to have peace" theory.

maybe it's hitting a little too close to home now.

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Beautifully Broken

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from: topknot
date: Aug. 31st, 2004 10:44 am (UTC)
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You're the 4th or 5th person who's said it's worth seeing.

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