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...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!