The Good

Jet Li has something special even if I don't know what that is and I don't care for his movies.

The Bad

This movie's whole approach ends up being a bit too pedantic for my tastes.

With a movie like Hero, I truly feel that if you have seen one than you have seen them all. This movie tells a classic story of one man defying many odds and achieving great things. This story is owned not by the East, the West, the North or the South... but by humanity. It is a classic tale and Jet Li really does a good job of embodying the Nameless Warrior who is out to avenge his people. Also, this film isn't told in a linear fashion which also caught my attention. Sadly, I just feel that movies of this nature tend to beat us over the head with symbolism and imagery. The use of colors is so prominently displayed that if you don't get the point then chances are you never well.

While I think Hero is ultimately better than a film like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (which tells you everything you need to know by the title), ultimately I feel that all these films are too similar for me to ever watch more than once.

Features

Inside The Action and Storyboards

Inside The Action is a discussion about the action scenes in the movie between Quentin Tarantino (who "Presents" the film) and Jet Li. They talk about how the scenes were put together, signature moves and of course Kill Bill. Money people must think that if they put Quentin Tarantino in something, or his name on something that it will attract an audience that wouldn't normally come for a film. While I will say that I am a big fan of his, I think he needs to be careful about how much he wants to put himself out there. The Storyboards are for scenes like "The Golden Forest", "Library", "Ring of Iron" and "Lake". Putting this feature on here, while well intentioned, was really a big mistake. I say this because the screen is too small for the presentation. You have the scene in the movie and then the storyboard below it, and while this works on a regular TV, it just doesn't play well here.

Video

Widescreen. With bars on the top and bottom of the screen, this very clear UMD has what I like to call a technical soulfulness. This movie just seems to glide across the screen with an effortlessness that I haven't witnessed with too many action films on my player. Bolstered by a compression that seems to accent everything about this film, I was amazed with all that this movie was able to put across. There is so much happening on the screen at so many different times, and at no point does anything about any of the images get lost. Hero looks exceptional in this format.

Audio

Stereo. Again, another movie that I spent too much time reading and therefore didn't really notice the sound design. Also, I didn't use the headphones that come with the unit, and I think ultimately that makes watching any movie on the PSP player less of an intimate experience. While that was lost here, the speakers of the system itself seemed to do a very good job of putting across everything that was intended.

Package

Jet Li and Zhang Ziyi stand in the forefront of this cover. Behind them is an army and what looks like a rising son which is supposed to be some form of symbolism, I guess. The back cover gives us a description of this epic tale, a "Bonus Features" listing and some technical specs. I like that there is something understated about this packaging, as it seems like the creators of this DVD are trying to downplay the size and scope of this film. Maybe they think people will be scared off by watching a "large" movie on such a small screen?

Final Word

I really wish that Jet Li would play a role like the one he did in Lethal Weapon 4. I know that he sees himself as a star, so playing a "bad" guy probably hurts that angle, but if he continues to play it safe I don't know what kind of career he can have in the US. It's funny, it seems like when people start off in their careers, they are more open to do anything and as a result they do more interesting work. It's only when they have success that they start to play it safe and everything becomes homogenized. I would think it would be the other way around, you would do the normal stuff to show you can play nice and then you get into the interesting stuff because you can call your own shots.

Okay, there are people who will swear by a movie like Hero. To them, these are the best films ever made. Myself, I prefer things to be a tad more interesting. This film tries but ultimately it falls back into a familiar structure.

Hero was released July 22, 2002.