This is probably the most beautiful film I've seen all year, and if you look over my film history for 2004, you'll see that this is no light praise. From a technical standpoint, Hero approaches perfection. Lighting, color, choreography, and camera work were all flawless. What keeps it from being a four-star movie is the writing. The story uses a very unusual structure, almost everything being told in flashback. It didn't quite click for me. And much of the dialogue in the present time portion was very stilted--at least, it came across that way in the subtitles. The overall message of the film, too, was just too bluntly delivered for me, though I hear it was received very well in its native China. Still, some of the performances worked well--I especially liked Tony Leung Chiu Wai as Broken Sword--and the visuals were so breathtaking that I still really enjoyed the movie.

Viewed: 9/10/2004 | Released: 1/13/2004 | Score: B

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