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Thread: Hero - Lavish But Irritating

  1. #16
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    People who own the older asian dvd release of this film and saw the film theatrically have notified me that only some words in the subtitles are altered to have the american audiences better understand the meaning of what's being said. Although the new asian dvd release has reportedly some extra 10 minutes added on.

  2. #17
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    After a bit more research most people agree that the 98 min and the 108 min versions are virtually the same, the longer version doesn't add anything to our understanding, some fight scenes are longer especially the one between Jet Li and Tony Leung.

  3. #18
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    Thanks for the info and the links. Here's another article I found in NYT, interview with the director. He's saying that Miramax, in funding nearly 2/3 of the cost, "encouraged" him to trim it 20 minutes. Not sure if that was done at the early stages (i.e. script, casting stage) or later at editing stage.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2004/09/02/movies/02zhan.html

    <Still, Mr. Zhang said he kept Western audiences in mind while making the film because he knew he would not be able to recoup the production costs through Chinese ticket sales alone.

    "I tried to get across themes that would be understood by a Western audience," he said. "There are elements that are purely Chinese, but I made an effort to keep a balance between the two."

    Miramax was one of his biggest backers, covering nearly two-thirds of the film's $30 million cost. On Miramax's advice, he cut 20 minutes to speed the pace and make it more palatable for American audiences.

    "America is a big market, and I wanted it to succeed, so I agreed," Mr. Zhang said. The uncut version was released in China on DVD.>

  4. #19
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    That kinda bugs me. I believe the best films are made without the audience in mind. To alter themes in a film based on the fact that western areas would be viewing seems silly.
    "So I'm a heel, so what of it?"
    --Renaldo the Heel, from Crimewave

  5. #20
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    These are all very important issues. Hero is certainly designed as a far more mainstream movie than many of the works by Asian directors we talk about on this site, hence it is not at all surprising that he thought of the western audience. It's also true that in martial arts movies there is a lot of East-West fusion going on; that's just the mood of the times. I just saw the film and I found it very abstract and generalized, sanitized, almost,you could say, but also surpassingly beautiful, of course, sort of the martial arts epic distilled to its very essence, with color coordination, with a sense of sublime purity. I missed the dirt and confusion of Wong's Ashes of Time, the pungent dialogue and surprise twists of Kill Bill. I would say if you're a film buff, especially an Asian film buff, above all a martial arts film buff, Hero is an absolute must. You may indeed want to see it five times, study its sequences, savour its dialogue and its arguments. But in this distillation there has been a loss of any touch of reality. People are killed and they hardly bleed: there's just a tiny puddle of blood at their feet, and the lover sheds one big tear. It's epic poetry without the blood and guts of Homer.

    The issue with Harvey Weinstein may be more complex that it is sometimes represented as being. If you're going to make a movie that costs many tens of millions of dollars, you're going to have to have backing, and you're going to have to meet some requirements of y our investors. Since essentially the movie wouldn't have been made, it appears now, without Miramax funding, Harvey's wanting to cut a few minutes emerges as not so arbitrary as some have implied. His damage may be far greater in the case of very small films, where the intrusion or the shelving aren't justified by financial support.

    I hope this doesn't make me look like an apologist for Harvey Weinstein, which is certainly not the case.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 09-06-2004 at 11:59 PM.

  6. #21
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    Re: Hero - Lavish But Irritating

    Originally posted by tabuno
    Dancing on water seems more of a irritating illusion than a solid depiction of more authentic and well-received Japanese samurai movies.

    Hi tabuno,

    I just want to share this with you and your wife. ;)

    The "dancing on water" is actually one of the martial arts skills (or level) that is quite prevalent in Chinese martial arts books.

    Its more elegant name is known as "Qing Ting Dian Shui" (translated as "Grasshopper skimming the water"). You see, Chinese like to believe if the grasshopper can do such a thing, they might be able to attain that "martial arts skills" some day ... hee hee ...

    As writers of martial arts books try to use their imagination, this is one of the skills that many Chinese has come to accept. Hee hee ...

    Likewise, the skill of "walking on walls and roofs" (quite often seen in Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon". That is known as "Fei Yan Zou Bi" (translated as Flying from Roofs and Walking on Walls).

  7. #22
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    Walking on Water

    Somehow, I would imagine that an animated version of this movie would have been more well-received than its live-action version in regards to myth and magic. Somehow if this were a great movie, the mythic notion of dancing on water would not have emerged in my mind as an irritant - however, the set up in this movie, the mix between reality and myth isn't clearly made for me so my expectations of this movie is more grounded in reality (Western). It would be interesting to think how much cultural prejudice and historical mythologically ignorance might play a role in how this movie is seen and evaluated.

  8. #23
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    Flying Snow has to be real

    Interesting comment and lore from hengcs.

    Whether you understand the conventions of a culture or not doesn't always matter; you just have to accept them, especially when the culture is a remote one from yours. As we've been saying in this discussion, the western and esp. US audiences have become more and more conditioned to understand and appreciate martial arts movies of the most elaborate and flowery kind. Like Crouching Tiger, Hero is not unusual in its content for the genre, but it's presented in a particularly beautiful and palatable form suitable for the western audience. I don't think it has to be translated into or reduced to an animation. You could not capture the magic of Maggie Cheung with little digital drawings. Beautiful flesh and blood, real flowing diaphonous robes, thousands of tiny leaves floating in the air--these are things the most advanced animation techniques will never really duplicate, though to be sure, digitalization plays a role in all this stuff now, for better or for worse.

    Magic has to look real or it isn't magic.

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