When you stop and ask someone what a hero is, you might get a mixture of answers. Most answers will give the name of a comic hero who has super strength or the ability to fly. You might possibly get a movie character who takes her sisters place, fighting and eventually leading the masses into a rebellion against the capital. When you break it down past the cape or laser eyes you are faced with the true meaning of a hero.
“A person who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities” (Dictionary). Let’s stop and think for a moment of when you have seen heroism in a person, possibly you think of Martin Luther King Jr or Rosa Parks.
Maybe you think of fire fighters, police officers, nurses or military. Or maybe for a moment you think of the man who stopped his truck in the middle of a busy freeway to save a kitten, or the little boy who begged his mom to stop the car, so he could help a little old lady across the street.
There is no need for an adjective to justify their status. A hero is altruistic, someone who sees a problem and steps up to solve it selflessly without hidden agendas, as well as tenacious despite any obstacles they may encounter. The movie Hero depicts a picture of multiple heroes, who at first glance, sacrifice their lives for a cause but despite this portrayal I believe there is no true hero in this movie.
The first character that you are presented with in the movie is a warrior named Nameless, his mission is to assassinate the King of Qin. Nameless shows great swordsmanship throughout the movie as well as leadership by convincing the other warriors, Sky, Flying Snow and Broken Sword to follow his plan. He also shows great patience while perfecting his skills as he tells us that for “10 years I have worked relentlessly without a moments rest”( Hero). While these actions seem heroic they are purely out of vengeance, his mission is driven solely by selfish hatred. Nameless’s family was killed by the army of Qin, leaving him an orphan, his mission is to avenge their death. In order to achieve this goal, he asks others to sacrifice themselves. There are no motives for the greater good of their kingdom, no acts of selflessness. Therefore, nameless fails as a hero despite having an epiphany and aborting his mission in the end. He leaves the king with these words “Because of my decision many will die, and your majesty will go on living. A dead man begs you to never forget the ultimate ideal for a warrior” (Hero) knowing that he is sacrificing himself at the end of the movie.
Long Sky is the next warrior of the movie that you are presented with. His battle again Nameless seems insignificant throughout the movie, almost displaced. Until you are given a scene where Broken Sword, Flying Snow and Nameless are all discussing Nameless’s plan of attack. This is where you see the impact of Long Sky’s sacrifice, without his actions the other warriors would not believe in Nameless and his ability to achieve his mission. While Long Sky shows selflessness by sacrificing himself for the mission I am left questioning if this is a true form of heroism. I see no other attributes of a hero from this glimpse of a character.
Flying Snow another great warrior shows great strength, perseverance and even acts selflessly as she battles against an army of arrows that threatens the life of her kingdom, however this is the only act of heroism that we see from this character. She is drowning in bleakness and in her obsession to assassinate the king in vengeance for her father, who was a Zhao general and lost his life in a battle against the Qin army. She is so overpowered by these emotions to kill the king that when the mission fails for a second time she challenges Broken Sword to a duel of fury at the end of the movie because she believes that he has once again forsaken her. She then kills herself with the same sword alongside of Broken Sword. This is an act of love and longing for peace at the end of the movie “No more drifting, no more roaming I’m taking you home now, Our home” (Hero).
Broken Sword the most intelligent of the four portrayed heroes saw the future that the king had envisioned and sacrifices his plan to assassin the king next to Flying Snow despite three years of training for that very moment. Before Nameless continues on his journey Broken Sword provides him with a few words of wisdom “The people have suffered years of warfare, only the king of Qin can stop the chaos by uniting all under heaven… One person’s suffering is nothing compared to the suffering of many” (Hero) This is one of the only points that I see a fleck of heroism in the characters throughout the movie. A hero must be willing to put others before themselves, Broken Sword shows us slightly what this looks like. Yet he lacks the qualities that we define as hero such as perseverance, he lets others do as they please even if he doesn’t agree with them, he even goes as far as to help Nameless to continue on his journey to assassinate the king giving him his sword to put him 10 paces from the king.
He also lacks leadership, he seems to be blinded by his love for Flying Snow and when she doesn’t agree with him simply backs down instead of fighting for what he believes to be right. The definition of a hero and the perspective that we hold changes throughout the years. While a hero to one person is not the same hero to another, they all hold similar attributes. Not everyone is a hero, and while everyone at one point in their lives displays a characteristic of a hero I feel this is simply ordinary just as the characters in the movie depict. “Let us strive to bring ourselves up to the heroic levels rather than alter the definition of a hero so we all qualify” I don’t know who said those wise words, but I agree with them. Let us stop finding everyone to be a hero and truly marvel at those who encompass all a hero truly is. For these reasons I feel that there is no true hero in this film, each character has their moment of heroism but none of them show heroism throughout the movie.