17 January 2023



To mark Chinese New Year, Zhang Yimou’s classic film Hero (英雄) returns to the big screen in Bangkok later this week. This wuxia (martial-arts fantasy) epic was one of China’s most expensive dapian (‘prestige’) productions—at least, until the release of Zhang’s even more lavish Curse of the Golden Flower (满城尽带黄金甲) a few years later. Hero will be screened at Doc Club and Pub on 19th, 21st, 22nd, 24th, 26th, and 29th January.

Hero features stunning cinematography, though its political subtext is more questionable, as it can be read as an endorsement of authoritarianism. Ideologically, it’s a far cry from Zhang’s early films, such as Raise the Red Lantern (大紅燈籠高高掛). In that respect, the trajectory of Zhang’s career echoes that of veteran Thai director Chatrichalerm Yukol, who made his name with socially conscious films like His Name Is Karn (เขาชื่อกานต์) but has more recently produced royalist-nationalist propaganda such as the Legend of King Naresuan series (ตำนานสมเด็จพระนเรศวรมหาราช).

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