When Zhang Ziyi thwacked Maggie Cheung Man-yuk on the hand with a sword while shooting a fight scene for Hero, Zhang (above) was so racked with guilt that she cried. Later, she even made the Hong Kong superstar bird's nest soup to help ease the pain. But Zhang shed no tears when she suffered some bumps and bruises; she says she has learned the hard way. 'I have lost count of the number of times I've been injured,' she says. 'Injuries are a part of life in action films.' But the 23-year-old says it will all have been worth it if Hero is a success. 'If it succeeds, Chinese people will be very happy because it's a Chinese film,' says Zhang, who plays Tony Leung Chiu-wai's faithful servant. And, Zhang believes, Hero has come at the right time. 'Chinese films are getting more international attention and it's something we didn't expect,' she says. 'If more people start to expect things from Chinese films, there will be demand for quality and that's a good thing.' The drama school graduate from Beijing rose to fame with her debut performance in Zhang Yimou's award-winning The Road Home in 2000, but was propelled to international stardom the following year by Taiwanese director Ang Lee's internationally acclaimed Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, which scooped four Oscar awards including best foreign film. And although comparisons between Hero and Crouching Tiger are bound to be made, Zhang says the two film are vastly different. 'I think [the two directors] are different and it shows in their films,' she says. 'Zhang puts more emphasis on Chinese culture. His films have a northern China feel . . . it's like a Chinese watercolour painting.'