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Zhang Yimou's Hero to the fore

Zhang Yimou's controversial epic film Hero, his first martial arts flick, starring inimitable Jet Li, Tony Leung and Maggie Cheung will open the 5th Cinefan film festival today at Siri Fort I.

india Updated: Jul 17, 2003 17:39 IST

The Fifth Cinefan Film Festival, with its emphasis on showcasing Asian Cinema will be inaugurated today at the Siri Fort I in the capital. The festival which is held under the aegis of Cinemaya - the Asian Film Quarterly, has over 76 films in its kitty which will showcased over a period of nine days at three venues, apart from the opening and closing ceremonies.

The opening film this year is the critically acclaimed Hero, the latest film to be directed by China's celebrated filmmaker Zhang Yimou. The film stars Tony Leung, Maggie Cheungand Zhang Ziyi (of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon fame).The stellar cast is led by the internationally renowned martial arts actor Jet Li.

At the height of China's warring states period, the country was divided into seven kingdoms ofQin, Zhao, Han Wei, Yan, Chu and Qi. For years, the separate kingdoms fought ruthlessly for supremacy. As a result, the populace endured decades of death and suffering.

The Kingdom of Qin was the most determined of all. The Qin King was obsessed with conquering all of China and becoming her first Emperor. He had long been the target of assassins throughout the other six states. Of all the would-be killers, none inspired as much fear as the three legendary assassins, Broken Sword, Flying Snow and Sky.

To anyone who defeated the three assassins, the King of Qin promised great power, mountains of gold and a private audience with the King himself. But defeating the killers is a near impossible task. For ten years no one came close to claiming the prize. So when the enigmatic county sheriff, Nameless, came to the palace bearing the legendary weapons of the slain assassins, the King was impatient to hear his story. Sitting in the palace, only ten paces from the King, Nameless told his extraordinary tale:

For 10 years, Nameless studied the way of the sword and resolved to challenge the three assassins. Using the secrets of swordsmanship; Nameless defeated the mighty Sky in a furious showdown. Following this initial victory, he destroyed the famed duo of Flying Snow and Broken Sword. This time using a weapon far more devastating than his sword - their extraordinary love for each other.

The King hung on every detail of this curious story. But then something most unexpected happened - the King has a different story to tell of how Nameless really came to sit there, face to face with the King!

It appears that everything was not so simple. In the centre of the intrigue sits Nameless -a solitary ranger and the King of Qin - the ruler of the Kingdom, with only ten steps between them. Within those ten steps holds an earth-shattering tale of love, honour and duty, a story that moves beyond the reaches of history.

To bring to life this epic tale of love, loyalty, jealousy and intrigue, Hero assembled an unprecedented collection of Asia's hottest talent. Jet Li is Nameless, the enigmatic county sheriff who earns his audience with the mighty King of Qin. Tony Leung Chiu Wai and Maggie Cheung, fresh from their award-winning performances in Wong Kar Wai's In the Mood for Love, reunite to play the assassins Broken Sword (Leung) and Flying Snow (Cheung).

Zhang Ziyi, who has gone from strength to strength since her critically acclaimed debut in 'The Road Home' will play Broken Sword's devoted servant, Moon, whilst distinguished veteran Chen Daoming plays the powerful King of Qin. Rising star and martial artist Donnie Yen will play the third assassin, Sky.

Two-time Academy Award nominee, director Zhang Yimou is joined by Award winning Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon producer, Bill Kong, Cannes Technical Grand Prize winner Christopher Doyle as director of photography, and straight from his roaring success in Shaolin Soccer comes action director Tony Ching Siu Tung. Academy Award winning costume designer Emi Wada and Academy Award winning composer Tan Dun complete the formidable, star-studded crew.

First Published: Jul 17, 2003 16:16 IST