Hero (2004)

MPAA Rating: PG-13

Entertainment: +2

Content: -1/2

Written and directed by Zhang Yimou, Hero is an artistic, powerful portrayal of love, loyalty, jealousy and intrigue set during Chinas Kingdom Wars 2,000 years ago. Martial arts superstar Jet Li heads the all-Asian cast as an assassin named Nameless, whose purpose is to kill the King of the Qin dynasty. Hero is presented exclusively in various dialects of Chinese with English subtitles, which makes getting to know the characters and understanding the plot very difficult. This epic tale, while barbaric in its focus on the six warring kingdoms of China, uses intricate and breathtaking architecture, textures, tapestries, natural elements and an outstanding musical score, which all contribute to a civility and beauty in the midst of the violence. Hero is a magnificent step back in time and an intriguing look into a culture that most Westerners know little about.

Hero is not your typical martial-arts film. While there is a gratuitous amount of violence with people impaled by swords, only two instances show any blood. There is a sword fight between several male combatants in a water garden, which is artistically breathtaking. A sexual encounter where a man ravages a woman concludes with the scornful vengeance of his mistress. Brute strength is portrayed as an army of thousands bearing large crossbows launches an attack on a single town with a storm of arrows and aggression. As the arrows pierce the buildings, the victims of the attack continue to write in calligraphy because they believe that the written word of their people is worth dying for. In the Eastern tradition of storytelling, this film does not progress linearly. The details of the story are randomly presented, like a collage to be unified and experienced in its entirety. Due to one sexual encounter and a few instances of strong violence, this film receives a slightly negative acceptability rating.

Preview Reviewer: Brian Hughes

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: None

Obscene Language: None

Profanity: None

Violence: Many times mild (sword play; kicking; man soars through the air with the intent to impale an opponent with a sword but passes the other in artistic movement); moderate (martial-arts fighting, aggressive sword fighting with several cuts but little or no blood shown, several stabbings with swords but no blood shown); strong (woman vengefully stabs man with sword and kills him, thousands of arrows are shot from bows and large catapults and go through the roofs of buildings in order to kill the inhabitants of an entire town, a storm of arrows are shot at one man who attempts to assassinate the king, mans body is riddled with arrows but not actually shown)

Sex: Few times mild (it is implied that a man has a mistress with whom he has sex); moderate (man and woman lie in bed after a time of intimacy while holding hands); strong (man rips womans clothes off and has intercourse under a bed blanket, man makes erotic sounds in the midst of the euphoria)

Nudity: Few times mild (it is implied that a man is completely naked as he prepares to put on his fighting cloak); moderate (rear nudity of man and woman)

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: None

Drugs: None

Other: None

Running Time: 96 minutes
Intended Audience: Adults

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