In the Mood for Swordplay

Zhang Yimou sounds defensive when he speaks of Hero as "a genre piece." The implication is: just a genre piece, a diversion, a long sword fight played by grownups. Perhaps the director is thinking of his last purely frivolous work, the 1989 Codename Cougar, a goofy skyjack thriller that outfitted his severe star and muse at the time Gong Li in a tight stewardess uniform. If so, Zhang is underestimating both the power of the movie-epic form and his ability to inhabit and revive it.

For HeroóZhang's attempt to explode in the worldwide movie market as Ang Lee...

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