There are so many amazing fights that can culled from the careers of Jet Li and Donnie Yen, two of the finest onscreen martial artists of all time. Both have amassed impressive bodies of work that include such films as Fist of Legend, Iron Monkey, and the Once Upon A Time In China series. Some of these films might be appearing later on, but there’s something extra special about Hero, and this particular bit of cinematic combat.
Sure, it features both Li and Yen, so bonus points there. However, the scene is conveyed with such beauty and artistry, that it becomes less a duel, and more like a poem in motion. The fight, which finds Li and Yen at the top of their game, is played out with an almost surreal, Zen-like tone. Director Zhang Yimou breaks up the blindingly fast fighters with shots of rain dripping in slow motion, the fighters standing still as statues, and a blind musician whose song serves as the somber, elegiac soundtrack for the encounter.
All told, it’s a scene that’s as soul-stirring as it is jaw-dropping, a visual feast as well as an adrenaline rush.