Recently, I wrote a piece on the Most Underrated Films of the Last 25 Years. For 2002, I picked Hero, and in talking with people since then, I’ve been shocked at how many haven’t even heard of Zhang Yimou’s masterpiece.
The film uses a brilliant, Rashomon-esque approach to telling the story of a Nameless Hero (Jet Li) sent to assassinate the Emperor of China. Depending on from whose vantage point, or whose story is being told, Yimou uses a brilliant color palate. This movie is, bar none, the most beautifully colored film I’ve ever seen. It’s much more than just a martial arts epic, but it does contain some of the most amazingly choreographed fights you’ll ever see. My favorite, and it was tough to choose one, is the Red Leaves duel between Zhang Ziyi and Maggie Cheung’s characters. If you check out no other film from that list I put together, give Hero a try.