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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Morally complex idea of being a "hero" -- not just a superhero defeating powerful enemies but one with a secret agenda who is willing to change his mission and die for a superior cause (and possibly be misperceived as a traitor). Sub-themes about the deceptive nature of "truth"; destructiveness of jealousy and revenge; need to put aside regional differences to unify as one vast, more powerful union -- even if it means submitting to conquest by a tyrant.
Positive Role Models
Except for a flashback scene involving jealousy and a love triangle -- which turns out to be a lie -- characters are elevated examples of spiritual discipline, grace, focus, and purity (in Chinese folklore as well as kung-fu film, this is what makes them fly and do their superhuman stuff). They not only fight for their causes but sometimes refuse to fight for the same reasons, even when it means death. Female characters are equally as strong as males.
Violence & Scariness
Characters (including innocent civilians) killed in showers of arrows. Principle characters die in swordfights and stabbings, with only some bloodshed (some combatants are simply slapped and tapped with the flat sides of the weapons instead -- this tends to be an insult). One double suicide by sword.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
One bare bottom; a mistress has her robe torn open (non-explicitly) and there is consentual sex -- seen only as writhing shapes under sheets. Talk of a one-night stand and what is more or less adultery.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
The main character is invited to "drink" with the King.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this mature movie is a meditation on the nature of heroism, the purpose of violence, and what it takes to live in peace. So if you go expecting Jackie Chan, your kids will be mystified. Kids younger than 12 are going to find the circular nature of the narrative very confusing since the story is told four different times in four different versions. Also, unlike Crouching Tiger, there's a lot of talking in the movie, which means a lot of subtitles. Unless you want someone tugging on your arm saying "What did he say?" we suggest teens and up age wise. There's one naked tush in the beginning, and a woman has her clothes ripped off in a lovemaking scene but otherwise, the only concern is the swordplay and the occasional blood. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Hero is a very sophisticated movie. It's not Jackie Chan or even Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon but a serious meditation on the nature of heroism. This may be one of the most beautiful movies ever shot.
There is some blood, a good deal of suspense and, in what is guaranteed to confuse younger kids, "nameless" tells four different versions of the story to the king. As one 10-year-old said, "It doesn't have a clear plot, but it does have a clear moral."
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.