A lone warrior enters the palace of his emperor and tells the tale of how he defeated the three most feared assassins in the land.
The most obviously striking element of Hero is its sheer visual beauty as it is packed to brimming with stunning costumes, colours and sets and uses the same kind of graceful wire work that we encountered in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. The fight choreography is also beautifully executed making for a very poetic martial arts film. The plot is a reasonably interesting hybrid of Rashomon and The Usual Suspects which adds a different twist to the usual “heroic warriors making noble sacrifices” formula of this type of thing, but it is clearly languishing in the back seat to Zhang Yimou’s primary concern: the visuals. In fact a few of the scenes are rather irrelevant to the story and seem to exist solely to show off some more nice costumes and choreography.
Because of this and the flashback format, the audience doesn’t really get enough time to get to know the protagonists which means there’s little in the way of emotional involvement but as a sheer visual spectacle, Hero is second to none.