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Hero Review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 5.0

    out of 100

    Universal acclaim
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 100

    out of 100

    Chicago Tribune Michael Wilmington

    Swooningly beautiful, furious and thrilling, Zhang Yimou's Hero is an action movie for the ages.

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  • 63

    out of 100

    USA Today Mike Clark

    A movie just good enough to keep nurturing rooting interest as you watch it.

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  • 70

    out of 100

    Wall Street Journal

    Rich in motion -- the very clothes of the characters seem under a choreographer's direction -- as well as imagery.

  • 83

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly Lisa Schwarzbaum

    I wish 'Hero's emotional heat rose more intensely -- more recklessly. There's something grand but distant and almost fetishistic about the operatic solemnity with which Zhang approaches the Rashomonic story of assassins attempting to kill a king.

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  • 88

    out of 100

    Chicago Sun-Times Roger Ebert

    A visual poem of extraordinary beauty.

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For Families provided by Common Sense Media

Iffy for 13+

Gorgeous martial arts movie for older kids.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this mature movie is a meditation on the nature of heroism, the purpose of violence, and what it takes to live in peace. So if you go expecting Jackie Chan, your kids will be mystified. Kids younger than 12 are going to find the circular nature of the narrative very confusing since the story is told four different times in four different versions. Also, unlike Crouching Tiger, there's a lot of talking in the movie, which means a lot of subtitles. Unless you want someone tugging on your arm saying "What did he say?" we suggest teens and up age wise. There's one naked tush in the beginning, and a woman has her clothes ripped off in a lovemaking scene but otherwise, the only concern is the swordplay and the occasional blood.

  • Families can talk about why the movie told the same story four different ways and why the nameless hero does what he does in the end.
  • Also, this movie is an excellent springboard to talk about what it took to make the modern nation states we have today.

The good stuff
  • message true3

    Messages: Morally complex idea of being a "hero" -- not just a superhero defeating powerful enemies but one with a secret agenda who is willing to change his mission and die for a superior cause (and possibly be misperceived as a traitor). Sub-themes about the deceptive nature of "truth"; destructiveness of jealousy and revenge; need to put aside regional differences to unify as one vast, more powerful union -- even if it means submitting to conquest by a tyrant.

  • rolemodels true3

    Role models: Except for a flashback scene involving jealousy and a love triangle -- which turns out to be a lie -- characters are elevated examples of spiritual discipline, grace, focus, and purity (in Chinese folklore as well as kung-fu film, this is what makes them fly and do their superhuman stuff). They not only fight for their causes but sometimes refuse to fight for the same reasons, even when it means death. Female characters are equally as strong as males.

What to watch for
  • violence false4

    Violence: Characters (including innocent civilians) killed in showers of arrows. Principle characters die in swordfights and stabbings, with only some bloodshed (some combatants are simply slapped and tapped with the flat sides of the weapons instead -- this tends to be an insult). One double suicide by sword.

  • sex false3

    Sex: One bare bottom; a mistress has her robe torn open (non-explicitly) and there is consentual sex -- seen only as writhing shapes under sheets. Talk of a one-night stand and what is more or less adultery.

  • language false0

    Language: Not an issue

  • consumerism false0

    Consumerism: Not an issue

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false0

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: The main character is invited to "drink" with the King.