to www.marxmail.org on
Zhang Yimou is one of
Nowadays Zhang is making films that are a retreat from the earlier films. Dispensing entirely with themes that challenge the status quo, "Hero" and "House of Flying Daggers" seem very much influenced by Ang Lee's "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon." My comments here are directed toward "Hero," which I saw recently in DVD.
During the 1980s and 90s Hong Kong studios churned out film after film starring Jet Li or Jackie Chan as itinerant swordsman standing up to evil. These films were marketed to a mass audience and made no pretenses to high art. They also relied on combat scenes that relied strictly on the acrobatic and martial arts skills of the stars. Unfortunately, first Ang Lee and now Zhang Yimou decided to use the sort of computer-assisted special effects that were found in the Matrix films where characters defy the laws of gravity routinely.
In "Hero," the star Jet Li floats through the air at the drop of a hat. These elaborately choreographed sword fights remind one of the levitated figures in a Chagall painting. Since they are so obviously disconnected from physical reality, they tend to convey as much danger as a Chagall painting.
Zhang seems much more interested in visual effects than
anything in this elaborate costume drama. Armored soldiers march in formation
as if on stage. At the end of the film, they demand the execution of Jet Li in
unison. The effect is positively operatic. Zhang does have a demonstrated
affinity for opera. In 1997 he directed the Puccini opera "Turandot" in
The story itself revolves around the plot of Jet Li and his
associates to assassinate the King of Qin, who has
decided to subjugate the five other kingdoms in ancient