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I heard from someone Chinese that she was surprised that anyone in the US was interested in Hero (the 2002 film) at all, since it relied so heavily on Chinese stories...stories that Chinese people would know well, but Americans (and presumably people of many other nationalities) would not.

Is this true? If so, what is the story (or stories) that the movie is based on?

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The interest surely stems not from the specific events relevant to a particular society but from the archetypal sacrifice the hero makes where he choses the good outcome for society. – matt_black Mar 10 '12 at 0:11
Aside from you, was/is the movie popular in the USA? And what I'm also wondering is, are there more Chinese (especially kungfu-) movies that are popular in the US? I live in the Netherlands (west Europe) and no one here gives a shit about kungfu movies. Except for a handful of martial arts lovers, like me :p – poepje Jun 7 '13 at 15:59
up vote 9 down vote accepted

The story has a historical background. It is set in a time when China was split into many smaller states fighting against each other and the king of Qin trying to conquer the other realms, which he later (not in the movie) accomplished and founded the first Chinese dynasty, the Qin dynasty, with himself as the first emperor of China.

So it is more or less based on an important era in Chinese history, which I guess every Chinese learns in their history lessons. But to which extent the king of Qin (the only historically existing person from the movie, I guess) and the specific events are depicted accurately, I cannot tell.

In fact there was also a historical person, Jing Ke, who tried to assassinate the king of Qin and I think he might have been the model for Jet Li's character, the assassin.

Some years before Hero there has been another movie set in this background, The Emperor and the assassin, which actually features the above mentioned assassination attempt by Jing Ke.

As to why this movie (Hero) was also interested by many "foreigners" (and I guess was quite successful all over the world)? Well, it is still a good movie, with a distinct visual style and an interesting story, no matter if you know on what it is based or not (though it can make it even more interesting if you do).

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No wonder chinese people are interested in the time of the seven kingdoms and the Qin-dynasty (that conquered the others). That events lead to the creation of China as a nation. Many chinese movies are set in this time, although not all feature the assassin. – Mnementh Dec 14 '11 at 22:03
Wasn't Tarantino (or another American director) instrumental in bringing the movie to American/European audiences? – DisgruntledGoat Dec 20 '11 at 13:15
@DisgruntledGoat Yes, it was indeed Tarantino, but I think only for the American distribution. I remember the movie being released much earlier in Germany (and other European countries?) and in contrast to the US-release without subtitles (dubbed of course, not in Chinese). – Napoleon Wilson Dec 20 '11 at 14:28

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