"Kono kuni wa mada, hontô no hero wo shiranai [Japan] ("A series of Rashomon-like flashback accounts shape the story of how one man defeated three assassins who sought to murder the most powerful warlord in pre-unified China.
Haunting beauty and provocative message
Hero is noteworthy on at least two counts.
First, there are scenes of haunting beauty("Duel in the yellow forest"
and "Turquoise autumn" to site a couple) that, like the best of
impressionist paintings, are so affecting that you will forever see the
world in a slightly different way having once beheld them.
Secondly, the overall message of the film is a provocative one. The
claim is that a degree of human casualties and suffering may be the
optimal path to a better world, especially when the alternative is
equally brutal chaos. This is not a popular theme. It has become much
more fashionable to be anti-war in all cases. And understandably so,
since variations of this logic have often been used in the past to
justify atrocities. But the film provides a crisp litmus test for
avoiding delusion: action be taken with a heart void of malice and an
unwavering commitment to the broadest possible ultimate outcome of good
for all. Can anyone live up to this standard? Several characters in the
movie do, each in their own way. If the standard could be met, would
the world be a better place? These are questions worth reflecting on
that have not been dealt with, to this depth, in any film I'm aware of.