One word: Arty. Plus, even though I can still count on one hand the number of subtitled Chinese films I've ever seen, I can honestly say that they all have one thing in common: Everyone dies (or goes insane - Raise the Red Lantern) by the end of the movie. Except the King of Ch'in/Qin (I learned all the Chinese names in the older style, sorry! ^_^;;) - I knew he couldn't die because, like, he's the King of Ch'in and he eventually became First Emperor of All Under Heaven, etc. So I knew he couldn't die, which takes a bit out of the assassination attempt when you know it's doomed.
Anyway. I still liked the movie, and the color phases (for lack of a better term) of each part of the story. Undoubtedly if I knew more about Chinese culture than I do, I would've picked up on a ton of stuff that otherwise just passed me by. Toly's favorite part was in the "yellow leaves forest" (were those beech trees? For some reason I thought of them as such). At that point I was going "Hm, Hurricane power from CoH" which sounds very crass of me, but it was actually sort of complimentary, believe it or not.
Toly fell asleep during the last 15 minutes. He just doesn't remember to get enough sleep the night before we go see a movie. I mean, this was a movie he wanted to see, too. I said if he's gonna do this again maybe we shouldn't go see Sky Captain next weekend. (Related note: We have a rewards program at our theater and today we got a free movie pass! Toly wants to see either Ghost in the Shell 2 or maybe Resident Evil if they're running at that theater. He'll go by himself since I have no interest in those films, whereas Hero interested me.)
Anyway, I had to recap the last 15 minutes of how everyone died for the final time in the film for him. Man, talk about death scenes piled up on top of each other. Everyone got, what, 3-4 death scenes in this movie? Just an observation.
Before I'm judged as a complete and utter philistine, I did think the fight scenes were pretty good. I mean, I didn't much care for the Matrix movies, say, but a well-executed fight scene, that I appreciate. So I figured I'd be going for this, but the overall feel of the film, I liked more than I'd anticipated. I think I like it better than Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. That movie's wuxia seemed just over-the-top in places, and in Hero it was easier for me to accept.
However, what really impressed me with this film was that it kept my attention enough that I didn't deconstruct it too much. Apart from the CoH moment above, I did have the "man, who's gonna clean up the library?" thoughts during the appropriate scenes, but that was about it. And that's pretty good for a movie to draw me in so well that I don't think about the film crew or how they did a particular effect.
Leaving some spoiler space in the above...
Anyway. Knees stiffened up terribly in the theater, so I'm off to pop some potassium caps and maybe a painkiller as a chaser. Can't believe it cost $12 to get in and $15.75 for snacks! And I ate ahead of time, 4 porkchops and a bowl of barley cookies! Criminy, it's no wonder we don't go to the theater that often. (Toly's snack take: large diet coke, bag of Twizzlers licorice, box of "cookie bites" candy, plus I got a diet coke and a popcorn.) Sometime this week I'm gonna pick up a bottle of water for .50 from A'tron and smuggle that in whenever we go to Sky Captain just to keep the drink costs down.