So last night I tried to watch Hero, the 2002/2003/2004 film directed by Zhang Yimou and starring Jet Li. Now, I like Jet Li, and I like Zhang Yimou, and I like martial arts and action. But maybe the timing was bad, maybe I was exhausted -- all I know is, I could not stay awake. And I was all right with that.
I mean, it's gorgeous -- Christopher Doyle is genius with a camera, and I still can't believe some of those colors. But after about half an hour, the only thought I'd really had was "wow, if they took out all the slow-mo, this movie would be fifteen minutes long." The fighting was dull, I just couldn't get invested in the story, and while the acting was great I didn't find myself really sympathizing with any one character. I might have liked it more in the theater, but...
Wuxia is a beautiful genre deeply rooted in Chinese culture. I acknowledge and respect that. But I'm finding it harder and harder to believe in flying people. All it does is make me want to watch the original Matrix again, because while I just love the way Yuen Wo Ping and others craft those elaborate fight scenes, I need there to be justification built into the story for the crazier moves.
I imagine that if I'd made it through more of the film, I'd be able to talk about the potential themes of fascism and communism -- which do deeply interest me. In fact, the whole political situation of the film seems more interesting than the film itself. Though the politics don't feature sulking Maggie Cheung, skulking through the calligraphy school. I don't know why she looked so awesome doing that. She just did.
For a counterpoint, read Alison's review. Me? I think I'll go watch Carrie-Anne Moss kick some ass. It's been too long.