Saturday, October 22, 2005

Light As a Feather, Hard as Steel

Tam was working last night, and I was feeling decidely less than 100% (Winnipeg turns into a germ factory about this time of year), so I decided to take it real easy and just chill out with a movie before hitting the sack. Seeing as how I was too tired to read anything while I watched the movie (my usual modus operandi), I took the opportunity to watch a movie where I wouldn't be able to read anything else, i.e. a film with subtitles.

I've got quite a few in my movie collection that I haven't gotten around to watching yet (Kung Fu Hustle, Crouching Tiger), but I decided to go with Hero, starring Jet Li.

Wow, I really liked this movie. It may have been the perfect movie to watch while mildly hopped-up on flu medication. It's basically a series of fight scenes, but man, what amazing fight scenes. Jet Li is a guy who shows up at the King's place claiming to have returned from defeating the three assassins who the King was terrified would kill him. He tells the King how he came to beat them, then the King tells Jet Li what he thinks happened, then we find out even more about what really happened.

It sounds a little complicated, but all that's really important to know is that you get to watch the same 5 characters have multiple fights. And the fight choreography is amazing. I admittedly haven't seen a lot of modern kung-fu movies, so I'm probably a lot behind the curve in regards to this genre. There's quite a bit of "wire-fu", but while I'm sure a lot of movie watchers are sick to death of it, it still looks amazing to me. Most movies you see these days are overloaded with CGI effects(no offence to Geroge Lucas), but I really prefer watching actors interact with real environments.

Yeah, there definately is still some CGI in Hero, but the shots it's used to create would be absolutely impossible to film without it. And the shots are so inspired that I have no problem with how they were created. Even if it involved puppy slave-labor. There's a fight sequence set in the middle of a forest, with the leaves falling all around the two combatants, that is breathtaking (and not just because I'm so congested).

The story is a little Rashomon influenced, but has enough surprises to keep things interesting, and the movie doesn't waste a whole lot of time on non-kung-fu or swordfighting-free scenes. This is a movie that aspires to be a great visual treat for fight enthusiasts, and on that level it succeeds completely.

I know I'm kind of behind the boat on this one, but I'm really looking forward to checking out the other recent martial arts films that are grouped with Hero. Sometimes it's a good thing to be late to check something out, because then there's a whole glut of material just waiting to be enjoyed. Hooray for me, and my pop-culture laziness!


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