|Hero and Cultural Paradigms - friday 2004-07-23 2008||last modified 2004-08-17 1517|
|Categories: Kung Fu, Film, Current Events|
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Hero was manufactured by the Chinese government as state-sanctioned cinematic entertainment featuring some of the biggest names in Hong Kong cinema, from the America-recognized Jet Li and Zhang Zi Yi to lesser known Tony Leung and Donnie Yen. For a state-made film, it's suprisingly good. The plot, cinematography, and action are all pretty good. You should go watch it before reading on. Just be careful, you might be arrested by the MPAA Police for owning a copy before it's released in American theaters, you crooked film lover.
As with the Hollywood-produced Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, American film distributors are hoping for another hit with a foreign chop-socky movie, though this time with an actual foreign film. As such, their marketing for Hero is intended to resonate with the American audiences.
Too bad the selling point is the exact opposite of the point of the movie.
As with any Chinese state film, Hero tries to prove why China is so great, and its conclusion is that it is because individuals lay down their own agenda for the greater good (see why they're Communists?). Perhaps that's the definition of heroic in China. It certainly isn't the definition here in America. The protagonist of the script is intended to be the emperor, who, despite a distinct lack of peers who understand his reasons to commit genocide and cultural cleansing, undertakes both, for the sake of a peaceful and unified China. Not because he hates everybody, as does the standard American supervillain (for those in need of a quickie on Chinese history: lots of warring clans existed until one emperor unified the country by brute force and the near eradication of languages other than what we know today as Mandarin). Jet Li's character, out to assassinate the emperor for his conquering of Li's clan, is miraculously converted to the emperor's point of view while the assassination plot is being carried out and nobly accepts his death for the Middle Kingdom's health.
The American trailer boasts about the lone warrior with amazing fighting skills out to avenge the total destruction of his people, fighting everybody and everything that gets in his way. Nevermind that that isn't even how the action plays out for most of the film, particularly how great he is - nobody believes this no-talent hack could do the things he said he does, and, in fact, he can't. Of course, our heroic protagonist is on his way to killing the emperor in some cathartically satisfying fashion, perhaps like the purely good Aragorn and the purely evil (and ugly) Uruk-hai.
Part of the joy of foreign films is discovering cultural difference. So why is Hero being marketed as if it were just another American film? Surely they could do something besides lie about its plot.
It's interesting knowing that Chinese audiences would go into this film knowing the outcome is not the death of the emporer. I wonder what American audiences will think after the non-one-dimensional supervillain boss guy doesn't get his head chopped off by the non-one-dimensional 'hero.'