Zhang Yimou finally fulfilled his promise, and the movie "HERO" is released. Zhang Yimou came out of woodwork in Hengdian of Province Zhejiang recently and talk about the movie. Sometime back, all kinds of news related to Hero were churned out endlessly. During its active production period, many media tried to visit the production, hoping to gain some information. However, Zhang Yimou issued a strict order preventing any of its crew and cast to say anything about Hero.

Everyone always has the impression that I only like shooting films set in rural villages. Actually, I am a big fan of wuxia novels. My first wuxia novel was the 17-volume King of Eagle Claw. I still remember the characters very well. I have also read Jin Yong (Louis Cha), Gu Long, etc. Jin Yong’s novels are more traditional; Gu Long novels are atmospheric.

Every since I became a director, I had always wanted to produce a wuxia movie. I had already been looking for script writers three years ago, had always wanted to adapt a Jin Yong or Gu Long novel. I hoped to get the adaptation script right before purchasing the rights. However, the adaptation was not satisfactory, so I decided to handle the script myself. It took me about three years. By the time our script was done, when I was happy with my script, Lee Ang’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon had already been released and was immensely successful. And thus, people are saying that I am merely following the trend, imitating others.

There are four symbolic persons in Hero. These four people are called Flawed Sword, Flying Snow, Without Name and Like Moon, and are played respectively by Tony Leung Chiu Wai, Maggie Cheung, Jet Li and Zhang Ziyi. They seem to have no surnames, and their names are but a metaphor. Chen Daoming acts as Emperor Qin, and doesn’t have a name either. We don’t call him Yingzheng or Ershi, just Emperor Qin.

The story is set mainly in the Post Warring Period. At that time, there are Seven Kingdoms, with Kingdom Qin being the strongest. To prevent Kingdom Qin from conquering them, the Six Kingdoms keep sending assassins to take Emperor Qin’s life. Flawed Sword, Flying Snow and Like Moon combine forces to assassinate Emperor Qin but die in their failed attempt. Eventually, Without Name gains Emperor Qin’s trust and enters the inner palace. When Without Name gets close enough to the emperor to be able to murder him, he changes his mind. For Without Name realises that Emperor Qin is a true Hero… This is the basic structure of Hero.

Many people tend to compare Hero with Lee Ang’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. However, I believe that Hero is not only a wuxia pian but also a nursery tale that happened in ancient China.

I don’t know much about the West, unlike Lee Ang who is familiar about the Western market and popular in the West. I don’t have Lee Ang’s good command of English, and I am known as a folk of the countryside, a rural director. The world is a big market and there are people who enjoy my movies. I hope to retain my traits in Hero, to lend a rejuvenating feeling to the work. As I am the one who wrote the story, it carries my unique mood.

Hero is a commercial action movie. I’ll be including my personal understanding of Chinese culture in the film, to make it more meaningful. Wuxia is a fictitious world. Sometimes, you may discover that it’s so fascinating to transform intangible figments of the imagination into material objects of the real world; It’s also very difficult. For example, a wuxia novel may paint a very vivid atmosphere of that very short moment, the speed, the strength during that instant when the sword is unsheathed, affording you plenty of room for fantasy. It’s very exhilarating. But in a movie, as that instant is but a quick move, there can’t be much charm. Then you have to feel the mood. This is the first time I am shooting a wuxia pian and I want to portray this type of atmosphere, to produce something that shows my idiosyncrasies.

In reality, Hero is a movie that combine elements of commercialisation with a sense of uniqueness. It’s not justifiable just saying about its novelty; That would be tantamount to saying that Hero is an experimental movie which may be a commercial failure. Elements of commercialisation relate to the greatness of the story, the mood, the rhythm and the panoramic vastness of the scenes.

The story
Using the assasination attempt of the historical figure, Chin Shi Huang Di (The first emperor of China) as a backdrop, this film attempts to explore and develop a better understanding of the Chinese concept of a hero. In a Chinese cultural context, it hopes to explore the preconceptions and misinterpretations of heroism and heroes.

At the height of China’s Warring States period, the country was divided into seven kingdoms: Qin, Zhao, Han Wei, Yan, Chu and Qi. For years, the separate kingdoms fought ruthlessly for supremacy. As a result, the populace endured decades of death and suffering.

The Kingdom of Qin was the most determined of all. The Qin King was obsessed with conquering all of China and becoming her first Emperor. He had long been the target of assassins throughout the other six states. Of all the would-be killers, none inspired as much fear as the three legendary assassins, Broken Sword, Flying Snow and Sky.

To anyone who defeated the three assassins, the King of Qin promised great power, mountains of gold and a private audience with the King himself. But defeating the killers is a near impossible task. For ten years no one came close to claiming the prize. So when the enigmatic county sheriff, Nameless, came to the palace bearing the legendary weapons of the slain assassins, the King was impatient to hear his story. Sitting in the palace, only ten paces from the King, Nameless told his extraordinary tale:

For ten years, Nameless studied the way of the sword and resolved to challenge the three assassins. Using the secrets of swordsmanship; Nameless defeated the mighty Sky in a furious showdown. Following this initial victory, he destroyed the famed duo of Flying Snow and Broken Sword. This time using a weapon far more devastating than his sword - their extraordinary love for each other.

The King hung on every detail of this curious story. But then something most unexpected happened - the King has a different story to tell of how Nameless really came to sit there, face to face with the King!

It appears that everything was not so simple. In the centre of the intrigue sits Nameless -a solitary ranger and the King of Qin - the ruler of the Kingdom, with only ten steps between them. Within those ten steps holds an earth-shattering tale of love, honour and duty, a story that moves beyond the reaches of history. A story about what it means to be a HERO.

Source: sina