Anacondas, Hero Tangle at Box Office

Giant CG snakes and high-flying Kung Fu combatants vie for moviegoer dollars this weekend as Sony/Screen Gems unleashes the sequel Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid and Miramax releases the Quentin Tarantino-endorsed martial arts epic, Hero.

In Anacondas, a scientific expedition sets out for Borneo to seek a rare flower called the Blood Orchid, which may have revolutionary medicinal properties. Things turn deadly, however, when the search party unwittingly stumbles into a mating hot spot for oversized reptiles. TV veteran Dwight H. Little (The X-Files, Wolf Lake) directed this follow-up to the successful 1997 Anaconda, which starred then up-an-comers Jennifer Lopez and Owen Wilson. No name actors are on board for the sequel, but the computer-animated and animatronic snakes will be the main draw for genre fans. Australian effects company photon contributed to the flick’s gripping visuals.

Comparisons to Ang Lee’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Akira Kurosawa’s samurai classic, Rashomon, precede Hero as it kicks and slashes into theaters. Zhang Yimou directed this Hong Kong/China-made period actioner that stars Jet Li as a nameless warrior who takes on a group of assassins plotting to kill a king. The film, China’s most expensive production to date, emerged as the country’s most successful film as well. It debuted in China and Hong Kong in 2002 and has finally made its way to U.S. audiences, buoyed by rave reviews.