Virgin priestess of Aphrodite in Greek mythology. A resident of Sestos, she fell in love with Leander, who lived in Abydos, a town on the opposite side of the Hellespont. Every night she would light a torch atop a tower and he would use it as his guide as he swam across the strait to meet with her. One night a great tempest arose and extinguished the torch. Without the light to guide him Leander lost his way and drowned. The waves bore his body to the European shore, and when Hero saw it from her tower she cast herself into the sea.

Hero and Leander are two of the classic doomed lovers in literature.


Hero (2002)

Hero (Ying Xiong) is a blockbuster Chinese film, directed by Zhang Yimou and starring Jet Li and Zhang Ziyi, about a trio of assassins who attempt to kill the first emperor of China, Qin Shihuangdi. While quickly becoming China's highest grossing feature film ever, the movie's release has been repeatedly pushed back in the US.

Like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Hero makes extensive use of piano wire supported high flying martial arts stunts and the two movies have eerily similar scores by the same composer, Tan Dun, but the film is perhaps most remarkable for its stunning use of color and its fantastical sets and settings. Hero starts off with great promise, quickly drawing the audience into a heroic quest of epic proportions, awing them with beautiful women, lavish scenery, and stunning effects, and keeping them on their toes with an innovative narrative style reminiscent of Rashomon.

Sadly, however, the movie comes crashing down to earth with a hideously jingoistic ending redolent of Chinese propaganda. In the climactic final scenes, the film informs us that it is better for one nation to conquer all of China, and even the entire world, because under one ruler the world would be at peace, whereas if there are many nations and peoples there is always the potential for war. Qin Shihuangdi, who in real life was a brutal and ruthless tyrant, is passed off as a truly benevolent and enlightened being who only conquers his enemies for the greater good of mankind.

Anyone with even a passing familiarity with current events can see the relevance of this "message" to China's current politics. In the film's final scenes (which I suppose many Chinese found deeply moving) the characters we have rooted for the whole way suddenly turn into cardboard cutouts - mere mouthpieces for late 20th century Chinese ideology - rather than the human beings they had at first appeared to be. How disappointing. It is no wonder Miramax has balked at releasing this ridiculous farce of propaganda passed off as art to US audiences.


Director: Zhang Yimou
Screenplay: Li Feng, Wang Bin, and Zhang Yimou
Original Score: Tan Dun
Cinematography: Christopher Doyle


Jet Li - Nameless
Tony Leung Chiu Wai - Broken Sword
Maggie Cheung - Flying Snow
Zhang Ziyi - Moon
Daoming Chen - King of Qin
Donnie Yen - Long Sky

Were it not for the contrived and emotionally overwrought ending, I would consider this to be a truly great film.

The 1992 film Hero starring Dustin Hoffman, Andy Garcia and Geena Davis begins as the story of, well, of a complete asshole who is down on his luck and facing the possibility of a prison sentence. He's a petty thief and a dealer in stolen goods. We get a sense of how much of a creep Bernie LaPlante (Hoffman) is when he steals a hundred dollars out of his court appointed lawyer's purse while in the midst of his own trial. This may seem far fetched, but Dustin Hoffman is able to pull it off convincingly enough that we feel very uncomfortable watching him rather than groaning at a believability gap.

We learn Bernie is a bullshit artist to the point where he suffers from a major "boy who cried wolf" problem. No one believes anything he says because he's lied to them and let them down so often in the past, whether it is his employer, his ex-wife or bartender Tom Arnold. When his wreck of a car breaks down, he finds himself with a front row seat for a plane crashing into a bridge. As he watches the plane burn, he hears people inside, calling out for help. He wants nothing to do with them. This isn't his business. The police and fire department will be there. This is what they are there for.

Eventually, Bernie gives in, but not willingly. At all. Swearing at everyone and everything and feeling these people being trapped in a burning plane is a major inconvenience in his already messed up life, Bernie agrees to help force the door to the plane open from the outside, but only after he removes his "hundred dollar shoes" to keep them from being ruined. Once he does, he figures he can move along, but a young boy insists he help find his father, who is still trapped in the plane. At no point does Bernie assume the usual trappings of heroes. He continues to be very annoyed and bitches at everyone he ends up pulling off the plane. He is just trying to find the boy's father so the kid will shut up and leave him alone, to the point where he actually wants to leave everyone else trapped or injured where they are. Amongst the people he pulls off the plane is news reporter Gale Gayley (Davis). Even as he rescues her, Bernie has the presence of mind to steal her purse. Following the mayhem, Bernie disappears into the night, wanting to continue to keep a low profile.

Bernie becomes the "unknown hero," the "angel" who saved fifty-four people from certain death. No one can identify him or find him, so a million dollar reward is offered by the news station if the hero comes forward and agrees to an interview. The only evidence of his identity comes from one of the "hundred dollar shoes" he lost at the crash site. Having given the remaining shoe to a homeless man, John Bubber (Garcia), and having been arrested for attempting to sell Gale Gayley's credit cards, Bernie has no way to claim the reward. Instead, John Bubber, and countless others, come forward, but Bubber is declared the hero as he has the matching shoe.

At this point the film becomes a massive parody of the media, as they turn Bubber into a saint. He does numerous interviews, picked up by the national media, visits sick children in hospitals and finds himself dealing with going from being a homeless man living in his car to a celebrity adored and worshipped by millions. John Bubber is a good man with a good heart, and unlike Bernie LaPlante, he truly cares about people and is at heart a hero. By the time the network decides they want to make a television movie about the heroic rescue, Bubber starts to cave in. He has fame, fortune and status built on a lie.

Dustin Hoffman's performance is painful, but in a very good way. You aren't sure if you want him to get the recognition or not. You find yourself liking him, even though you never stop thinking he's a complete asshole, and that is the magic of this film. What is the definition of a hero? John Bubber gives speeches about it, as much trying to define the concept as trying to ease his own guilt. At this point the story soars, with Bernie trying to get anyone to listen to him and Bubber slowly falling apart under the intense media attention. While I was personally disappointed and let down by the ending, some of the final scenes where Bernie lectures his son about there being no truth, only layers of bullshit, are powerful. If you are a fan of the anti-hero, this is the film for you.

I recommend watching this film on a really bad couch while eating store brand potato chips and drinking Seven and Seven. You'll understand why only after you see the film.

Oh, and Chevy Chase is in the movie, sort of disguised and completely uncredited.

The film is known as Accidental Hero in the UK and possibly elsewhere. Thanks to the lovely and talented Catchpole for this information.

He was born on the day the planets aligned.
He was born after the arrival of a comet that only comes to Earth once every ten thousand years.
He was born during an eclipse.
He was born at the stroke of midnight.
He is the result of the immaculate conception.
He spent his childhood being ridiculed.
He displayed feats of superhuman ability that got him into trouble as a kid.
His parents both died, mysteriously.
He lived with his evil grandmother until he was an adult.
He kept having this recurring dream.
He found out about his destiny while he was a teen, but he did not believe.
He was given a really good reason to when the mafia arrived.
He was given a really good reason to when the government agents arrived.
He was given a really good reason to when the aliens arrived.
He was given a really good reason to when the zombies arrived.
He was given a really good reason to when the ninjas arrived.
He was given a really good reason to when the pirates arrived.
He was given a really good reason to when the giant robots arrived.
He was given a really good reason to when the letter arrived.
He will lay his life on the line for the human race and the world as we know it.
He never runs out of ammo, just grenades.
He never has to stop running everywhere.
He never sleeps unless he’s going to get ambushed.
He never eats unless he needs to notice something really important.
He can get so mad that he fights even better.
He will tame the wild animals.
He will get the crew off the island.
He will decode the secret message.
He will predict the attack.
He will climb to the top of the mountain and talk to the wise old man.
He will brave the wilderness to talk to the wise old lady.
He will try to save her when the henchmen arrive, but she will tell him to go, and he will say, “No I’m not leaving you!” and she will say, “If you die all hope is lost!” and he will go.
He will find out who did this.
He will make them pay.
He will collect the seven hidden amulets.
He will navigate the labyrinth.
He will play all the games and get the required amount of tickets.
He will pull the sword from the stone.
He defeats the forces of evil.
He gets the girl.
He saves the world.

And anybody who says otherwise doesn’t know the story.

He"ro (?), n.; pl. Heroes (#). [F. h'eros, L. heros, Gr. .]

1. Myth.

An illustrious man, supposed to be exalted, after death, to a place among the gods; a demigod, as Hercules.


A man of distinguished valor or enterprise in danger, or fortitude in suffering; a prominent or central personage in any remarkable action or event; hence, a great or illustrious person.

Each man is a hero and oracle to somebody. Emerson.


The principal personage in a poem, story, and the like, or the person who has the principal share in the transactions related; as Achilles in the Iliad, Ulysses in the Odyssey, and Aeneas in the Aeneid.

The shining quality of an epic hero. Dryden.

Hero worship, extravagant admiration for great men, likened to the ancient worship of heroes.

Hero worship exists, has existed, and will forever exist, universally among mankind. Carlyle.


© Webster 1913.

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