Hero (2002)

Release Date: 24 October 2002

Directed by: Zhang YiMou

Country: China

The movie is set in ancient China before the unity of the kingdom. It’s about a Nameless warrior who visits the Qin Palace claiming that he has slain three notorious assassins that have been aiming for the Qin Emperor’s head. The movie is told in a narrative format and three versions of story is shown about how the the nameless warrior slays the three assassins, Long Sky, Broken Sword and Flying Snow.

What is interesting to note is that the three different versions are presented in different colour tones as if representing the central theme of each version.

The first version, told by the Nameless warrior to the Qin emperor is shown in a reddish tint. Red represents passion, lust, and love. In that version, Broken Sword rashly makes love to Moon (his pupil) to incite anger and jealousy in Flying Snow, in which she later response by killing Broken Sword and Moon in a fit of anger.

The next version is the Qin Emperor’s version of what happen, told in a blue theme. Blue commonly signifies depth and stability. In that version, all three assassins agree to sacrifice themselves for the greater cause of ending the Qin Emperor’s life.

The final version of the story, the truth of what actually happen, is presented in white, a colour associated with safety, purity, cleanliness and more importantly, truth.

Other things I’ve noted are how all the skilled warriors in the movie (Nameless Warrior, Broken Sword, Long Sky and Flying Snow) have a somewhat stoic facial expression. They also seem to have some kind of unspoken warrior etiquette/formality which they adhere to. Such as bowing or giving a curt nod as if a sign of acknowledgement or respect to his/her opponent before crossing swords. However, this practice is not present in the less skilled warriors such as Moon, who is still an apprentice of Broken Sword. Additionally, as in all Wu Xia films, whenever a fight scene commences, the background music is that of drums.

Overall, the movie really touched me. I found it incredibly beautiful how both Broken Sword and the Nameless warrior both saw the wisdom in letting go of their personal vendetta for the greater good. Broken Sword especially as he had more to lose than the Nameless warrior yet he chose to do the right thing even though it caused the person he love the most to turn against him.


2 Comments Add yours

  1. Hey Yi Huai, I felt that all the colours of the costumes and overall background really helped to improve the aesthetics of the movie, but also at the same time it helped the audience know what mood they should feel, or whether there was a shift in the mood. Like you, I too loved the ending where Sword and Nameless were willing to sacrifice themselves for a common purpose to build and unite the nation. Personally, this being my first wuxia themed movie, I did not catch the background music of drums at the background of the fight scenes, but looking back, it actually made it a lot more hyped hearing it! Haha. Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. ooeleneoo says:

    That’s a very thorough observation of the film! Like the one you have made on the facial expressions of all the warriors, I guess swordsmen are equipped with poker face as a skill, such as when Nameless tells his version of how he killed the other assassins. I felt that this film was executed beautifully from the actors to the costumes. Details from the hair which is messed up in the red version while the neat, tidy hair in the subsequent versions, they all probably meant something but some of us chose to see it as nothing. The usage of elements other than dialogues Director Zhang Yimou has displayed as narration has provoked my thoughts. This could be a way of supporting Roland Barthes theory of how authors are just a medium to transmit information. Overall good job on the review! 🙂


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