Mainland director Zhang Yimou's epic Hero was last night honoured with an Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Language Film. It is the third time one of Zhang's films has been nominated for the award, after Ju Dou in 1990 and Raise the Red Lantern the following year. 'I am very happy,' said Zhang from Paris, where he is promoting the film. 'There have been so many people who have worked very hard for this movie and this is a recognition of their hard work.' Hero, which had a $242 million budget and is a visually spectacular epic about China's first emperor, set a box office record on the mainland when it broke through the 220 million yuan (HK$207 million) barrier last month. It has grossed more than $26 million in Hong Kong. The film stars Jet Li as an assassin sent to kill the emperor, played by Chen Daoming. It also features Tony Leung Chiu-wai and Maggie Cheung. At the Oscar awards ceremony on March 23, Hero will be competing with Mexican film El Crimen Del Padre Amaro, The Man Without a Past, from Finland, German movie Nowhere In Africa and Zus & Zo, from the Netherlands. Hero was produced by Hong Kong's Bill Kong, of Edko Films, who also produced Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, which won four Oscars at the 2001 Academy Awards, including one for Best Foreign Language Film.