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Netflix Pick: The Brutal Beauty of ‘Hero’ (2002)

Today's pick is a sensational action movie from China.

Hero is a 2002 Chinese action film about a defense officer summoned by the King of Qin regarding his success of terminating three warriors.

Today’s Netflix Pick is an astonishing visual treat that combines breathtaking action scenes and a genuinely impactful story. Starring Jet Li and Ziyi Zhang, it’s a universally praised film that has been hailed as a masterpiece for its storytelling and creative effects. It’s Hero and it’s what you’re watching tonight. Here’s why.

THE STORY: Directed by Yīngxióng, the plot follows a nameless man (Li) from the Chinese state of Qin during the Warring States period. He has been summoned by the king after dispatching three infamous assassins, Long Sky, Flying Snow, and Broken Sword, each who should have bested him. The king, under massive guard and implementing a strict rule to protect himself where no one can come within a hundred paces, asks the nameless man to tell his story, with each successive chapter allowing him to approach closer. But there are matters of trust at hand and the king has his own version of what he believes happened, convinced that there is a dark conspiracy at his feet and that despite his heroics, perhaps the nameless man is not who he says he is.

Hero, 2002 © Beijing New Picture Film Co.


WHY YOU NEED TO WATCH: Inspired by the success of Ang Lee‘s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, a number of well-made Chinese action films were becoming very popular with Western audiences, including the beautiful House of Flying Daggers. In 2002, Hero was the most expensive and highest grossing film and China but its American release was delayed for two years before none other than Quentin Tarantino arranged for it to hit theaters. Good thing, too because Hero is a mind-bending experience, and while its eye-popping in its presentation, is also a very touching story that will keep you guessing as each remarkable chapter unfolds. You don’t need to be a fan of martial arts movies to be a fan of Hero as it is much more a tale of humanity than a kick-assery, though there’s plenty of that as well. This is truly a one-of-a-kind cinema experience. It’s streaming on Netflix right now.