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Thursday, August 13, 2009

[11/10] Hero (2004) / Ying Xiong (2002)

Ying Xiong


Hero (2002)

(2004 - wide release)

A splendid magical work of cinematic calligraphy, beautifully authentic watermarks, and a dream of thoroughly spellbinding cinematography, thanks to Christopher Doyle, "Ying Xiong" is a movie soaked in a captivating Chinese spirit that never fails the viewer at any time, the story of an ambiguous warrior and his memories in defeating three infamous assassins, but it doesn't stop there and will surely take you far beyond your boundaries and will emotionally sway at many major points, and will arouse imminent feelings of passion, grieve and glory. The directing is superb, succeeded in carrying out the visuals intact with the storyline and the acting is superb. Jet Li is not known as a great thespian and it was essential that, being primarily a martial arts star, aside from the ass kickery, he had to hold his own against some great actors, such as Tony Lueng. Li's understated performance is excellent. It's a very stoic role but it requires a performance to come from within. He is almost a narrator in the story and is the centre piece and Li was not the initial choice for the film. A more respected actor was wanted for the part, like Yun-Fat, but Li thoroughly rules his role and makes this part his own.

Tony Leung steals the movie though. Leung is fantastic a really great performance adding the gravitas that Chow did in "Crouching Tiger". He is a great actor, right up there with Chow and deservedly was recognised in the HK film awards. Cheung is fantastic as well and unbelievably gorgeous to look at. She made me want to break down and cry at the glorious creation of womanhood, and simultaneously go at it with myself in the cinema screen, but the threat of arrest was just about enough of a deterrent. You can sit and merely marvel at her gorgeousness with the sound turned down. Not far behind in the yummy stakes is Zhang Ziyi who also starred in "Crouching Tiger", she is also superb in this.

The action scenes, choregoraphed by Ching Siu-Tung, are flawlessly smooth and textured both in the movements of the actors and their surroundings. The various settings of each fight set the tone of the actors movements, as well as the movement and subjectivity of the camera. When not fighting, the camera presents us with shot after shot that would each unto themselves qualify as a work of art. When meshed together, they create a seamless continuity into which the fight scenes mesh perfectly. Tan Dun's music is incredible with heartwrenching violin solos, angelic harmonies, and a little throwback to the Peking Opera. It elevates so many of the scenes to levels that cannot be achieved otherwise. Beautiful from start to finish, "Ying Xiong" is a masterpiece in its own right. Shot perfectly and vividly, it never ceases to impress and is a joy to watch. It's not only the most beautiful wuxia film of all time, but also one of the best movies ever made, if not THE BEST!


Anonymous said...

A stunning movie! Zhang Yimou is truly an amazing director.

George Beremov [Nebular] said...

I agree. He's my all time favorite director!

Phil said...

I can't remember ever seeing greater use of color than in this film. I'm glad I saw it on a giant cinema screen back then. I've re-watched the film several times on DVD, but wish I could see it in a theater one more time. Or twice. Or three times..

George Beremov [Nebular] said...

Phil, I couldn't agree more. Thankfully, I had the chance to experience it twice at the theater, and I'm grateful for it. Still my all-time favorite film!