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The Chinese film Hero is, simply put, great cinema. An epic featuring tons of drama, intrigue, martial arts that clocks in at an incredibly short 96 minutes. The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foriegn Language Film of the Year, but unfortunately it lost to Nowhere in Africa.

In Hero a man called Nameless is given an audience to the King of Qin, a powerful warlord in a pre-unified China. Nameless has killed three assassins who were targeting the King, and the King asks him to describe in detail how he defeated the assassins. The film then gives a series of flashbacks in a Rashomonesque style. This description may not sound so sweeping, but this film is full of surprises and revelations.

Set to a thunderous score and featuring exquisite cinematography this movie offers a very unique experience. It may be reminiscent of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon in some respects, but it has a tone all its own. It's both meditative and enthralling, heartpounding and graceful. Hero has an amazing combination of all things cinematic: beautiful sets, a giant production, exciting action, dramatic and involving relationships, great music, magical sequences, and themes of love, hatred, art, unity, power, peace, and more.

A fantastic film.

Hero is set to be released in U.S. theaters this Novemeber, but the import DVD is already available and those of you with good video stores in your area may be able to rent it already.

**** of ****