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DVD Review: HERO

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PHOTOGRAPHY

HERO

DVD Review by David Blackwell

DETAILS: 99 minutes, Hero Defined, Inside The Action, Storyboards

STUDIO: MIRAMAX

RELEASE DATE: 11-30-2004

ANALYSIS: Nameless (Jet Li) has killed three assassins: Sky (Donnie Yen), Broken Sword (Tony Leung), and Snow (Maggie Cheung). He is brought before the King of Qin who wants to unite the seven states into one nation. Nameless wants to kill the King. As the movie unfolds, we see different versions of what could have happened until we see the truth. The fight sequences are amazing. Colors and beautiful locations even add to the atmosphere and mood of HERO.  If you don't remember the fights, you might just remember how color and beautiful locations combine to make you remember certain scenes in the movie.

HERO can be summed up in two words: unique and amazing. Then again, I might be doing the movie an injustice. It is so much more. HERO is not just the story of someone wanting to kill the King who would become the first Emperor of China. HERO also tells about the love between Broken Sword and Snow. Their love story threatens to be even better than the story of Nameless. Zhang Ziyi is great as Moon (who serves Broken Sword- her master). She is impressive in any scene she is in. It is incredible that she never knew martial arts and was able to pull it off in the fight scenes with Jet Li and Maggie Cheung.

VIDEO/AUDIO: HERO is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. Colors are strong and bright while the blacks are good. The transfer is soft with lots of background fuzz/grain near the end of the movie. Image detail could have been more, but the movie is watchable on DVD.

You hear HERO in the Original Chinese, English, or French. All audio tracks are in 5.1 Dolby Digital and there is even a DTS track. English and Spanish subtitles are also an option. I heard the English dub version. It has many changes to the original dialogue, but the track mostly says the same thing (just differently) as the Chinese track. The English track has good lip synching and good voice actors. Thankfully the English language track doesn't have the wrong voice actors like ZATOICHI.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

HERO DEFINED (about 24 minutes long) looks at the development of the movie from the director coming up with his own story (because he couldn't make adaptations of novels work), the locations used and the problems encountered with the weather, the importance of color and locations in the movie, and the actors (including how Jet Li was impressed on how fast Zhang Ziyi picked up martial arts for scenes in the movie). Interviews are with the entire main cast and the director.

INSIDE THE ACTION: A CONVERSATION WITH QUENTIN TARATINO & JET LI is a 14 minute featurette that originally aired on FX back in August. QT and Jet Li talk about Kill Bill, Jet Li's movies (like how US audiences and Chinese audience have different Jet Li movies as their favorites), and HERO (including a short look at the making of the movie). Rounding out the special features are storyboards being compared to four different scenes in the movie.

FINAL ANALYSIS: HERO is an amazing movie that should be seen. You might want to just rent it since the transfer could be improved on.

this DVD Review is (c)12-2-2004 David Blackwell and cannot be reprinted without permission. Send all comments to lord_pragmagtic@hotmail.com and look for additional content (and site updates) at http://www.livejournal.com/users/enterlinemedia