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Ghost Canyon

'Hero [Blu-ray]'
(Maggie Cheung, Jet Li, et al / DVD / PG-13 / (2002) 2009 / Miramax Films)

Overview: Master filmmaker Quentin Tarantino presents HERO -- starring martial arts legend Jet Li in a visually stunning martial arts epic where a fearless warrior rises up to defy an empire and unite a nation!

DVD Verdict: "HERO" is a film that really distinguishes itself from other martial arts film due to its artistic style, wonderful cinematography, well-chosen locations and of course, having a talented director and top talents of HK cinema definitely helps as well.

For the most part, "HERO" was definitely one of those films that you can remember for many years later for its scenes. From the vibrancy of the colors used, the battle scene on top of the lake (which Director Zhang Yimou wanted perfect still waters and didn't mind waiting to film when it happened), the thousands of arrowheads attacking the art school, there is simply many scenes that are just memorable.

Sure, "HERO" is a beautiful film known for its cinematography, its talent, its location but what about the storyline? The story of "HERO" is good but not great. Where a film like "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" is one of those films that captured beauty through its storyline, "HERO" definitely relies on the visuals to enhance the storyline. Because the film is split up into three arcs with three different stories of what took place, it's all about how the viewer interprets that storyline and how that storyline touches their soul.

Personally, I have found "HERO" almost like a piece of art. You embrace everything that went on to create that artistic piece. From its characters as Jet Li and Donnie Yen are just fantastic when they battle each other during their scene. You know that when these two are together onscreen, you're going to get a beautiful, captivating scene with the best fighting choreography. When you see Tony Leung Chiu Wai and Maggie Chung, you know that these two have awesome chemistry and that they can bring out the more dramatic scenes and even during their fighting scenes, everything seems believable and the two enforce the vibrancy and color of the film. The same goes with Zhang Ziyi who brings the more emotional scenes to the film.

But is the Blu-ray release perfect? Unfortunately, it misses the mark of perfection due to the Blu-ray not including a lossless audio track for the Chinese language. I was so excited about "HERO" on Blu-ray and it's a given, we are going to get awesome picture quality because it's a colorful and vibrant film. You know that the scene between Falling Snow vs. Moon with its rich red colors and yellow leaves is going to be absolutely brilliant on HD or the scene when Broken Sword and Falling Snow wear these blue outfits or their green outfits and you know that color is going to look great on Blu-ray. But along with that awesome picture quality, you want awesome audio.

The English dub is definitely one of the better English dubs for an Asian film and the lossless audio track was very good. But I was torn by wanting to watch the film in its original language but knowing that the audio quality of the Chinese Dolby Digital 5.1 was nowhere near the 5.1 DTS-HD English track. For a fan of this film, for was bittersweet.

So, overall "HERO" is definitely a wonderful film to catch on Blu-ray and it's great to see Disney give this release a digital copy as well. But for the most part, "HERO" could have been a great release but without the Chinese audio track in HD, it ends up being just an average release. [DAA] This is a Widescreen presentation (2.35:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

Close-Up of a Fight Scene - (9:18) The secrets of the fighting choreography of "HERO". Quentin Tarentino, Jet Li and Donni Yuen discuss the fighting choreography. Also, storyboard and fighting scene comparisons.
Hero Defined - (24:01) The Director and talent on their experiences of working on the film and the challenges they faced. Also, how locations were selected and what took place before the shooting of the film, during and after.
Storyboards - (5:19) A side-by-side (or more like top-and-bottom) comparison of the storyboards and final feature.
Inside the Action. A Conversation with Quentin Tarentino and Jet Li - (13:55) Jet Li is interviewed by Quentin Tarentino about his past films and working on "Hero".
Soundtrack Spot - (:39) commercial spot for the "Hero" soundtrack.