An otherwise great movie ruined by Mirmax's STUPIDITY and IG
T.Z.T | Los Angeles | 09/08/2009
(1 out of 5 stars)
"Let's get one thing out of the way: This is an excellent wuxia movie and by now, there is little point to cover what is so great about the movie itself - almost everyone who is reading this review has almost certainly already watched it.
Unfortunately, this movie's debut on the BD format really suffers and disappoints diehard Asian movie fans like me because some jerk at Miramax (who needs to be fired) royally SCREWED UP and made the decision to encode the ludicrous English-dub audio track in the lossless 5.1 DTS HDMA format, while the original Mandarin track that any self-respecting fan would prefer is in the crappy (and lossy) Dolby Digital 5.1 format.
Whether this was an honest mistake or done out of ignorance or as a racist sentiment on Miramax's part is irrelevant. What matters is that true fans are screwed because of this decision. I am really mad at Miramax and given their history of treating Asian movies like dirt (and yes, it is a LONG history), I think I am done buying anything from this company. This was the last straw for me.
Edit: typo: added "ruined" to title because it was bugging the hell out of me..."
Blu-ray: I love this film so much but no lossless Chinese au
Dennis A. Amith (kndy) | California | 09/15/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Beautiful, artistic, poetic...an enchanting martial arts film that will captivate you with every scene!
These are the words I feel about "HERO", the 2002 film directed by Zhang Yimou ("Curse of the Golden Flower", "The House of Flying Daggers" and "Happy Times") and a film that would feature cinematography by Christopher Doyle ("Chungking Express", "In the Mood For Love", "Fallen Angels", "Happy Together") and music by composer Tan Dan ("Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon", "The Legend of the Black Scorpion").
The film would also star Asia's top talents which include Jet Li ("The Warlords", "Fearless", "Once Upon a Time in China", "Fist of Legend"), Tony Leung Chiu Wai ("Lust, Caution", "Red Cliff", "Tokyo Raiders", "Infernal Affairs"), Maggie Cheung ("Ashes of Time", "Sausalito", "In the Mood for Love", "Comrades: Almost a Love Story"), Daoming Chen ("Peace Blossom", "My 1919, "Infernal Affairs III"), Zhang Ziyi ("House of Flying Dagger", "My Wife is a Gangster", "Musa the Warrior", "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon") and Donnie Yen ("All's Well, End's Well", "Iron Monkey", "Flash Point" and "Bodyguards and Assassins").
The film which was Hong Kong's most expensive film at the time, was critically acclaimed, won several awards and eventually would make over $178 million worldwide in the box office.
"HERO" is presented on a two-ray Blu-ray disc with one being the primary Blu-ray and the other being a digital copy version of the film. Also, the Blu-ray also comes in a slipcase.
VIDEO & AUDIO:
"HERO" is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:35:1) and suffice to say, this film just looks incredible. It's one of the most significant qualities of this film is its artistic direction, costume design, set design, location and most of all, the cinematography of Christopher Doyle.
Personally, I have always have seen Christopher Doyle as an avant-garde cinematographer since he worked on Wong Kar Wai's "Chungking Express" and suffice to say, his amazing cinematography and the tight editing really pulled the artistic vision of director Zhang Yimou to new heights.
Picture quality is vibrant. Very vibrant and color plays a big part in this film. Grain is seen on the film and I'm glad to see that Walt Disney has again kept with that and not gone the excessive DNR (Digital Noise Reduction) route. But for a film that came out back in 2002, is it a reference film on Blu-ray? Not really. But it does look very good. Part of the main reason is that despite the film being shot in beautiful locations and costume design and the colors really enhance the look of the film, it's no super clear, nor is it reference quality compared to recently released films on Blu-ray but still, "HERO" is just absolutely magnificent to watch.
As for audio quality, this is where it pains me to give it slightly less than perfect score. The film is presented with an English 5.1 DTS-HD losless audio track but the original Chinese language is only in Dolby Digital 5.1 (along with the Spanish and French). For a film of this caliber, I was hoping there would be a lossless audio track for the Chinese language but unfortunately, it's not.
But for some, I know it's a dealbreaker for some that the original language is not in lossless audio but the English version is and to be fair, I will say that the English dubwork is very good for this film. For earlier DVD releases, Asian films released in the US had terrible English dubbing but I will say that "HERO" turned out very well.
For audio, sounds such as the rains, swords clanging, arrows zipping through air... this is all captured quite well on the DTS-HD lossless audio track and sounds great. For the most part, audio is front and central channel driven with dialogue, music and sound effects but many of the soundtracks do utilize the surround channels. Again, I wish the original language was in lossless but for those who enjoyed the dubwork, you will be pleased by the DTS-HD audio.
As for subtitles, subtitles are presented in English SDH, French and Spanish.
"HERO" comes with the following special features (in 480i, English 2.0 Dolby Digital, English SDH, French and Spanish subtitles):
* Close-Up of a Fight Scene - (9:18) The secrets of the fighting choreography of "HERO". Quentin Tarentino, Jet Li and Donni Yuen discuss the fighting choreography. Also, storyboard and fighting scene comparisons. (Note: Some of the footage is the same as the one used on the main featurette).
* Hero Defined - (24:01) The Director and talent on their experiences of working on the film and the challenges they faced. Also, how locations were selected and what took place before the shooting of the film, during and after.
* Storyboards - (5:19) A side-by-side (or more like top-and-bottom) comparison of the storyboards and final feature.
* Inside the Action. A Conversation with Quentin Tarentino and Jet Li - (13:55) Jet Li is interviewed by Quentin Tarentino about his past films and working on "Hero".
* Soundtrack Spot - (:39) commercial spot for the "Hero" soundtrack.
"HERO" is a film that really distinguishes itself from other martial arts film due to its artistic style, wonderful cinematography, well-chosen locations and of course, having a talented director and top talents of HK cinema definitely helps as well.
For the most part, "HERO" was definitely one of those films that you can remember for many years later for its scenes. From the vibrancy of the colors used, the battle scene on top of the lake (which Director Zhang Yimou wanted perfect still waters and didn't mind waiting to film when it happened), the thousands of arrowheads attacking the art school, there is simply many scenes that are just memorable.
Sure, "HERO" is a beautiful film known for its cinematography, its talent, its location but what about the storyline? The story of "HERO" is good but not great. Where a film like "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" is one of those films that captured beauty through its storyline, "HERO" definitely relies on the visuals to enhance the storyline. Because the film is split up into three arcs with three different stories of what took place, it's all about how the viewer interprets that storyline and how that storyline touches their soul.
Personally, I have found "HERO" almost like a piece of art. You embrace everything that went on to create that artistic piece. From its characters as Jet Li and Donnie Yen are just fantastic when they battle each other during their scene. You know that when these two are together onscreen, you're going to get a beautiful, captivating scene with the best fighting choreography. When you see Tony Leung Chiu Wai and Maggie Chung, you know that these two have awesome chemistry and that they can bring out the more dramatic scenes and even during their fighting scenes, everything seems believable and the two enforce the vibrancy and color of the film. The same goes with Zhang Ziyi who brings the more emotional scenes to the film.
But is the Blu-ray release perfect? Unfortunately, it misses the mark of perfection due to the Blu-ray not including a lossless audio track for the Chinese language. I was so excited about "HERO" on Blu-ray and it's a given, we are going to get awesome picture quality because it's a colorful and vibrant film. You know that the scene between Falling Snow vs. Moon with its rich red colors and yellow leaves is going to be absolutely brilliant on HD or the scene when Broken Sword and Falling Snow wear these blue outfits or their green outfits and you know that color is going to look great on Blu-ray. But along with that awesome picture quality, you want awesome audio.
The English dub is definitely one of the better English dubs for an Asian film and the lossless audio track was very good. But I was torn by wanting to watch the film in its original language but knowing that the audio quality of the Chinese Dolby Digital 5.1 was nowhere near the 5.1 DTS-HD English track. For a fan of this film, for me...it was bittersweet.
So, overall "HERO" is definitely a wonderful film to catch on Blu-ray and it's great to see Disney give this release a digital copy as well. But for the most part, "HERO" could have been a great release but without the Chinese audio track in HD, it ends up being just an average release."
Great movie, disappointing BR transfer
J. Breese | 07/09/2010
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Hero is one of my favorite movies, so when I got a new TV and BR player it was one of the first "updates" I bought. Watched it last night and was very disappointed to NOT see any difference in the picture. The DVD was gorgeous and so is the BR, just not any better than the DVD. After seeing such an incredible difference in other BR-over-DVD movies, I was expecting the same here. Poop! What's worse, I just happened to see the review that mentioned how this transfer is a lot better than the House of Flying Daggers one -- which I also bought and haven't seen yet. I love wasting money replacing movies I already have with movies that aren't any better........"