The story involves a loner, referred to as “Nameless” (Jet Li), who is invited to a meeting with the emperor (Chen Daoming, voiced by James Hong in the English dub), following his defeat of three skilled assassins (Donnie Yen, Tony Leung, and Maggie Cheung). Nameless recounts his exploits in flashback to the emperor — moving closer and closer to the isolated king with each tale. But soon, the wise ruler begins to suspect that Nameless may not be all that he claims — and that he himself may be an assassin.
I have to say, it certainly is a majestic motion picture. The science of violence is depicted as a regal one, as opposed to a destructive force. Swordplay is on par with the art of calligraphy. And then, just like its low budget counterparts from the ‘70s and 80s, people leap into the air and stay there as long as they see fit. Arrows are launched over staggeringly long distances, gaining enough momentum to break through rooftops — but seldom through walls. But, moreover, Jet Li kicks some serious ass throughout the film, reminding us the entire time that he can play it serious just as well as he can throw a punch.
While some audiences (who would probably be better off seeking the aforementioned “grindhouse” variety of martial arts films) may find the movie a bit slower than they’d expect it to be, Hero succeeds in being the enthralling epic it sets out to be. The photography is beautiful, the stunt work amazing, and the music completely captivates the viewer. All three of those elements are just as effective as ever with this Blu-ray release. The movie is presented in a widescreen 2.35:1 ratio, encoded with a 1080p/AVC transfer. The image boasts some striking colors (particularly the reds), but the video element as a whole leaves something to be desired. The picture doesn’t look as “deep” as it should be — as if you’re still watching it in theaters at times (albeit a very high def one).