Hero (I hate that title, I hope they change it) is the story of the first Emperor of China, the king of Qin, who united China through conquest. Known as a power-hungry madman, he nevertheless managed to have several positive influences on China, not the least of which was uniting it into a cohesive and centrally-run country.
In the movie, three assassins have been trying to kill the ruler of Qin (Daoming Chen), and the movie opens as "Nameless", a low-ranking official raised by his adopted parents, is being honored for defeating all three assassins. I don't know any good way to describe the rest of the movie's plot without giving away some important points, so I'll stop there.
The camera work and the cinematography were absolutely gorgeous, without a question. The use of color and composition were near-flawless, pushing the boundaries but never breaking into poor taste, and the scenery was amazing. CTHD was a beautiful movie in many ways, but this outdoes it visually, almost effortlessly. Again, I can't actually get too far into it as the visuals actually help to illustrate an important plot point, and telling you too much would give it away.
The movie stars a bunch of huge names in Asian cinema - the ruler of Qin (Zheng Ying) is played by Daoming Cheng, the three assassins are played by Maggie Cheung, Tony Leung, and Donnie Yen, and the Nameless constable played by Jet Li. In addition, Zhang Ziyi (from CTHD and Rush Hour 2) has a part as the disciple of one of the assassins (Tony Leung's character).
The movie, as a whole, was fantastic. This is a rave-worthy show, people. Even cooler, this was the first North American viewing - it was a test screening, they haven't even completed the editing yet (as the host pointed out before the movie started, there were some parts that obviously needed cleaning up with dust, scratches, etc. on the film) and we had to fill out a survey at the end to see what we thought about it and what we like and didn't like.
The movie wasn't perfect, but honestly the only problems I had with it are the kinds of things that get cleaned up in post-production: the dirt on the film, a few places that will probably be tightened up (I just hope they don't snip too much in anticipation of a stupid American audience), and some cleaning up of the special effects in a few scenes. With some good editing in post, this could be a near-perfect movie. Assuming it comes out in the US (and it likely will, but not until sometime in mid to late 2003 I'm betting), I highly, highly recommend you see it. And of course for those of you not in the US, I highly recommend seeing it when/if it comes to where you live. :)