My self-control had set the ultimatum of finishing a particular chapter of the novel before allowing myself a film, but I threw it aside and went to see Hero tonight. I've wanted to see this film for well over a year, and trying to work today knowing I could be in the slightly ratty Exeter ODEON watching it was just too impossible. Yes, the screens there have sound leakage and the sweeties are overpriced, but I had to see it.
For all the trailers and stars (Jet Li, Zhang Ziyi), Hero is not a HK action but a traditional, mainland wuxia story: a warrior on a quest engages in magical battles until reaching a new understanding of the world and of honour. Unsurprisingly, it is compared to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Also unsurprisingly to me, it made me wonder what on earth I am doing. I am, essentially, trying to write a wuxia novel (and the caption at the start of Hero explaining it is set during the Warring States period of history caused a wry smile). I believe it is something I can do, most days, and then I see a masterful film and suspect I am insane. I suddenly doubt that I can put into words the expressiveness of this genre. Technically, yes, I can write fight scenes but can I evoke the meaning of those moves? I think, unknowingly, I started on elements of this novel two years ago in Glasgow's Film Theatre when I watched Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, so it seems appropriate that, as I near the end, I see another wuxia film which lifts me into another world.
I walked back from the cinema uplifted, energised and terrified of failing my own standards. There are issues surrounding the film's political subtext (everyone should work towards the unity of the land) but I'm still floating from the visuals.