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C-Movie: 英雄 (Hero w/ Jet Li)


Some friends saw Hero tonight and thought it was really great.

Question: Is Hero based on historical characters, or on ancient Chinese folklore as in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon?

While Crouching Tiger was enjoyable as a stand alone to non-Chinese audiences, one of my Taiwanese workmates filled me in on the symbolic meanings and basis to which most non-Chinese would be oblivious. Is this the case with Hero, as well?



Last edited by ccwf, 9/21/2004, 4:01 pm
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Re: Movie: HERO (Jet Li)


To keep the discussion in one place, I'm going to reply to this question in the Hero thread over Xiao Lynn's forum.

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posticon Re: Movie: HERO (Jet Li)


class blockquote ccwf wrote:

To keep the discussion in one place, I'm going to reply to this question in the Hero thread over Xiao Lynn's forum.
Since Xiao Lynn's AnimeX board has not been very active recently, let me repost some info here:

[Originally posted in 2004] class blockquote Just saw my first commercial for this movie (under the name Hero).

Be sure to check out some photos here. More information about the movie can be found at the official web site (mostly in English, some Chinese).

Edit to add: The old pre-American release official web site looks like it has been taken down.
and class blockquote class blockquote nchristi wrote in the C/J/K Dramas board:

Some friends saw Hero tonight and thought it was really great.

Question: Is Hero based on historical characters, or on ancient Chinese folklore as in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon?

While Crouching Tiger was enjoyable as a stand alone to non-Chinese audiences, one of my Taiwanese workmates filled me in on the symbolic meanings and basis to which most non-Chinese would be oblivious. Is this the case with Hero, as well?
It's probably based on both historical characters and folklore. Keeping in mind both that I haven't yet seen the movie (really need to make the time) and that my knowledge of Chinese history is pretty fragmentary (having been raised and educated in the U.S.), here are my thoughts…

xml:lang zh-TW 嬴政/秦始皇帝 (Yíng Zhèng/Qín Shǐ Huángdì) is certainly a real, historical figure. class ul class li He's the man for whom China was probably named (in English), after all. class li He (had) built the Great Wall and an extensive road system using heavy taxes and, I think, conscription. class li His military innovation was introducing cavalry into Chinese warfare. class li His grave, full of terracotta warriors, was found a few years back. class li He killed lots of people and burned lots of books. class li He was a brutal dictator. class li He really was the subject of assassination attempts. class li Lots of legends and folklore have sprung up about him.I can't comment on symbolism (again, I haven't yet seen the movie), but non-obvious things that might be useful to keep in mind include the following: class ul class li Qin, historically, has had kind of a bad reputation. It's somewhat ironical that in English, China is probably named after someone of such ill repute. (In Chinese, China is written, xml:lang zh-TW 中國, which doesn't come from the name xml:lang zh-TW Qin at all.) class li However, the Communists have tried to change this view of the first emperor, saying that he was a great guy whose dynasty fell because it wasn't sufficiently ruthless. (I guess this is used as a justification for their human rights policies.) class li Many of Jet Li's films do have political overtones.For more info, try Wikipedia's pages on Qin Shi Huangdi and Hero. Hmm, I see just now (not having read the latter before), that xml:lang zh-TW 英雄 the film is indeed perceived to have pro-totalitarian political overtones.


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Re: Movie: HERO (Jet Li)


class blockquote ccwf wrote:

the film is indeed perceived to have pro-totalitarian political overtones.
In particular, the end of the film focuses on the phrase xml:lang zh-TW 天下 (misleadingly translated in the U.S. release as “Our Country”), which some see as a justification for (possibly forceful) re-unification with Taiwan, and which is no doubt why the Chinese government allowed this film to be made and promoted. In fact, when watching the film and hearing the translation “Our Country”, I at first thought they must have been talking about the phrase xml:lang zh-TW 中國, which would have been a little odd considering that's a phrase created by the Republic of China (now Taiwan).

Note that the phrase xml:lang ja-JP 天下 /tenka/ was adopted by the Oda, Nobunaga and features prominently in Warring States period dramas like xml:lang ja-JP 功名が辻 (Kōmyō ga tsuji).

This movie brings to mind articles I've read about academic simulations of ethnic conflict (in particular, Israel-Palestine and UK-Ireland) and how to bring about lasting peace. Many simulations find that the surest way to guarantee peace is not through peace talks nor intermingling but rather for one side to annihilate the other. Of course, to his credit, Qin imposed the Qin writing system and currency on the conquered kingdoms but did assimilate and not destroy them.

Last edited by ccwf, 6/20/2006, 9:14 am


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Interesting background information, ccwf.


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Re: Movie: HERO (Jet Li)


class blockquote ccwf wrote:

... the end of the film focuses on the phrase xml:lang zh-TW 天下 (misleadingly translated in the U.S. release as “Our Country”), which some see as a justification for (possibly forceful) re-unification with Taiwan, and which is no doubt why the Chinese government allowed this film to be made and promoted.
Yes, very interesting. Question on "Our Country": What would be a correct translation/connotation to the American mind?
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Re: Movie: HERO (Jet Li)


class blockquote nchristi wrote: class blockquote ccwf wrote:

... the end of the film focuses on the phrase xml:lang zh-TW 天下 (misleadingly translated in the U.S. release as “Our Country”), which some see as a justification for (possibly forceful) re-unification with Taiwan, and which is no doubt why the Chinese government allowed this film to be made and promoted.
Yes, very interesting. Question on "Our Country": What would be a correct translation/connotation to the American mind?
Meaning of the individual characters and phrase are pretty much the same as in Japanese. class ul class li xml:lang zh-TW = heaven, sky class li xml:lang zh-TW = under, below, down class li xml:lang zh-TW 天下 = “all under heaven” is probably the most common translationWikipedia has an article about the phrase All under heaven.

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Re: C-Movie: 英雄 (Hero w/ Jet Li)


Thanks for the reference, ccwf. I don't know what to think about this. I read the Wikipedia article. I'm stuck at the point of the 2004 release of the film in USA and Chinese people here strongly objecting to translation of "our land," because it loses the essence of the meaning. class blockquote However, when the film was released in the United States in 2004, the English subtitle translation was changed to "our land". While this retained the property of 天下 tiān xià consisting of only two words/characters, this translation was severely criticized by many Chinese speakers in the United States because it lost the essence of the meaning of all under heaven.I wonder if the American mind can grasp the meaning in a same way as sons and daughters of China. If "all under heaven" is symbolic of the whole world, yet it really means "China," how could Americans ever think in terms of "all under heaven," rather than "our land"? Except to recognize that the Chinese believe in the concept that the whole world is "China"?

But what difference does that make in understanding or misunderstanding? Isn't the point that the Chinese believe the whole world is their kingdom? How can any non-Chinese believe that? Other than to recognize it is what the Chinese believe, yet the rest of the world doesn't accept that concept.
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Re: C-Movie: 英雄 (Hero w/ Jet Li)


Cool information. I have seen this film several times, enjoying it. Reminds me of one thing that I always think is too bad about America, that it doesn't have a long history. The second time I watched the film I was able to see the original words (which luckily I could understand). I think everyone can understand the ideal by looking at everyone else as common people. Although I understand the reason some disliked saying "our land" I think this does give the same main ideal of a brotherly connection between people if the watcher really looked at the movie's meaning.

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Re: C-Movie: 英雄 (Hero w/ Jet Li)


Great movie indeed..

Thanks for your information...

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