Great films appear every year and with them are potentially classic scenes that may become more famous than the film itself. The shower scene in Psycho, the chariot race in Ben Hur, the chest bursting moment in Alien, and the opera music sounding across the prison yard in The Shawshank Redemption are just some of the examples of the classic celluloid moments that we may be familiar with even if we’ve never seen the film. I’ll be sharing my favourite film scenes, some you will know others may be unfamiliar, but hopefully they’ll be moments you enjoy as much as I do.
Hero (2002) – The Battle between the Nameless Warrior and Sky
Zhang Yimou’s stunning film set in a divided China finished #6 in my Top 10 World Cinema feature back in November and remains a privilege to watch. With a stellar cast, great effects, set pieces and sumptuous fight scenes, Hero is a thrilling experience. Picking the best scene is tricky with the exchanges between The Nameless Warrior (Jet Li) and Broken Sword (Tony Leung Chiu Wai) on a serene lake simply spectacular, while the fight between Flying Snow (Maggie Cheung) and Moon (Zhang Ziyi) in an autumnal forest is also jaw-dropping. All are superseded by another encounter though which I couldn’t resist featuring here.
Set in 227 BC Hero follows the story of the Nameless Warrior who arrives at the palace of the King of Qin (Daoming Chen) who is trying to unite a series of rival kingdoms to form what is now known as China. The King has suffered insomnia as a result of three assassins – Broken Sword, Flying Snow and Sky (Donnie Yen) – but the Nameless Warrior comes to him with weapons wielded by the trio and the insistence that he has killed them all. The king wishes to honour The Nameless Warrior for his achievement but wants to hear tale of how he defeated and killed the three assassins.
The best scene in Hero comes with the first account from The Nameless Warrior of his fight with Sky. We are taken back to the moment Sky is playing a game of chess against an opponent who tries to arrest Sky but he and his men are defeated but not killed. Before Sky can depart The Nameless Warrior appears and challenges him while witnesses look on. The opening part of the exchange sees the two men floating through the air before their weapons clash briefly and they have a stand-off. The fight resumes but is interrupted by a blind man who has been playing music in the courtyard but is now about to leave before The Nameless Warrior requests that he play again. While music fills the courtyard both The Nameless Warrior and Sky close their eyes and picture the continued battle in their minds. Light rain falls on the courtyard, droplets trickling into bowls, bouncing of the Nameless Warrior’s sword and showing no signs of distracting the two opponents from their thoughts. Suddenly the blind man breaks the strings on his instrument, ending the music and shattering the concentration of the two men. The Nameless Warrior advances, Sky aims his spear sending a shower of water through the air but his opponent moves through it effortlessly before striking Sky with his sword and breaking his spear in two. Sky falls to the ground while the Nameless Warrior quickly sheaths his sword. When it’s over the audience can finally take a breath. Amazing.
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