Lotripper (msilverstar) wrote,

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

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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