Hero, from Director Zhang Yimou, is an epic retelling of the 2000-year-old story of the first Emperor to unify China. Based on one of the many mythical characters of this time, Hero is a powerful story of mysticism and legend that centers around assassin Nameless, played by Jet Li in his first Chinese role for more than a decade.
This rich tale of colour unfolds in a series of flashbacks, each detailing the same event from different perspectives. The complex blend of dream sequences with breathtaking live action challenged the Animal Logic team with highly dramatic shots. The visual effects shots feature fantastical environments that underscore the strength and dexterity of the characters, and enhance complex battle scenes.
Forest Fight: A stunning birch forest in Mongolia, which turns a golden hue for only one week in the month of October before shedding its leaves, sets the scene for a fight between Flying Snow (Maggie Cheung) and Moon (Zhang Ziyi).
Animal Logic's brief was to create 'a poetic yet potent vision'. Yimou wanted the scene to be beautiful but at times appear very ominous. The 3D crew animated an enchanted whirlwind of yellow leaves as Flying Snow, who has the power to summon the wind and the ability to turn leaves falling from the trees into a weapon, fends off attacks from her opponent, Moon. At the conclusion of the battle, a droplet of Moon's blood touches the ground and the forest turns a symbolic blood red.
Animal Logic also created visual effects for the following sequences:
Lake Sequence: In a pristine lake setting, Nameless (Jet Li) faces Broken Sword (Tony Leung) in an epic battle. The scene, in which both characters tiptoe across the water and use a 3D water droplet as a weapon, is one of the most extraordinary visions in the film. Director Zhang Yimou wanted it to appear as though Nameless and Broken Sword were like dragonflies skipping across the water as they fought.
Library Brush: This sequence, which centers around a white calligraphy brush, finds Nameless in a library exhibiting his 'quick sword' technique through which he claims to be unstoppable and extremely accurate. Nameless demonstrates this by destroying a single white brush, which has been flung into the air amongst 500 black brushes.
Palace Exterior: In one of the final sequences of the film, Nameless faces his execution by an army of a thousand archers. As they fire, the sky darkens with millions of arrows that sail through the air to bring about his inevitable death.