Jet Li's Fearless

( 10 )

Overview

Fearless opens in Shanghai, China, circa 1910, when wushu master Huo Yuanjia martial arts superstar Jet Li prepares to battle one Japanese opponent, Tanaka Shidou Nakamura, and three American opponents Anthony de Longis, Jean-Claude Leuyer, and Brandon Rhea in a massive tournament. The picture then cuts back to Huo's boyhood in the city of Tianjin, in North China, circa 1880, when his father forbids him from engaging in martial-arts training. He must therefore slip off and train covertly. Around 1900, Huo -- then...
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Overview

Fearless opens in Shanghai, China, circa 1910, when wushu master Huo Yuanjia martial arts superstar Jet Li prepares to battle one Japanese opponent, Tanaka Shidou Nakamura, and three American opponents Anthony de Longis, Jean-Claude Leuyer, and Brandon Rhea in a massive tournament. The picture then cuts back to Huo's boyhood in the city of Tianjin, in North China, circa 1880, when his father forbids him from engaging in martial-arts training. He must therefore slip off and train covertly. Around 1900, Huo -- then in his twenties -- continues to fight in tournaments. His determination is such that his entire life begins to revolve around championships, and the prospect of becoming the top-ranked fighter in Tianjin turns into a die-hard obsession, despite the repeated warnings of his best friend, Nong Dong Yong, to cut back. Huo ignores these admonitions, then turns conceited and ultimately refuses to hear an additional word of caution, until his arrogance leads to the death of a fighter and Nong's decision to abandon him as a friend. Driven into exile, Huo journeys to southeastern Asia, where he works alongside rice farmers and divests himself of conceit, then gently touches the spirit of a blind girl. When he finally returns to Tianjin, he has transformed, internally, into a different person altogether. A huge hit in Hong Kong when originally released into theaters in 2006, Fearless was often touted as Jet Li's final film in the wushu school of martial arts. The picture is based on the real-life story of Huo Yuanjia, founder of the Jingwu school of martial arts.
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide
Since Fearless was hyped as Jet Li's last-ever martial arts film, it has a lot to prove from the minute the titles roll. Such a bold announcement might inspire cynical viewers to roll their eyes at what would appear to be a blatant PR move, but Fearless proves itself to be a graceful and earnest attempt at the most literally definitive wushu martial arts film ever made. A fictionalized account of the life of turn-of-the century martial artist Huo Yuanjia, the narrative injects Huo's story with classic elements of rise-fall-and-redemption fables in order to emphasize the already-momentous effect that Huo's career had on China's precarious cultural identity at a time when Western powers were subjugating and exploiting the Chinese people on a massive scale. The choices work beautifully; when Huo's hedonism as a successful fighter leads him to lose everything, the film reaches a crux that in countless chop-socky kung fu movies has set the protagonist with nothing left to lose on a path of revenge. But here, the hero's fate is carried along a more meaningful current, and he eventually awakens to the bounty of what he still has to fight for: his nation. It becomes clear that Fearless is meant in many ways to remind the Chinese people of their cultural and historical character, but this doesn't detract from its more universal message about the true meaning of wushu -- that its purpose is to better oneself for the help and protection of others. It's very impressive that even as Huo learns to extinguish animosity between China's wushu schools and encourage competitive fighting between them only as a means of inner exploration, the film's depiction of how wushu fighters approach their matches with foreigners does not become prejudicial. On the contrary, despite the movie's portrayal of how exploitive and racist many foreign powers were, it also illustrates how any fighter who understands the truth behind wushu is capable of overcoming dishonesty and corruption -- and that this is just as true for members of the nations that are otherwise abusive to China. The overall feel of Fearless is relatively distinct in Li's filmography. Its epic, sweeping mood stands in contrast to Li's adrenaline-fueled action thrillers like The One, but despite its grandness and scale, it never reaches the fanciful, almost magical nature of Hero. The end product is almost perfectly balanced, proving that even if Li's promised retirement from martial arts films was indeed an honest attempt to leave the genre as accurately defined as possible, it was still a successful marketing tool because as deftly as Fearless accomplishes Li's goal, it also leaves us hoping that someday soon he'll be inspired to come out of retirement.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 3/26/2010
  • UPC: 025192063336
  • Original Release: 2006
  • Rating:

  • Source: Universal Studios
  • Format: DVD

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Jet Li Huo Yuanjia
Betty Sun Yueci
Dong Yong Nong Jinsun
Shidou Nakamura Tanaka, Anno
Collin Chou Huo's father
Paw Hee-ching Huo's mother
Nathan Jones O'Brien
Masato Harada Mita
Anthony de Longis
Jean-Claude Leuyer
Brandon Rhea
Mike Leeder
Sun Li
Harada Masato
Shigeru Umebayashi Conductor
Technical Credits
Ronny Yu Director, Producer
Wang Bing Screenwriter
Yang Buting Producer
Thomas Chong Costumes/Costume Designer
Chris Chow Screenwriter
Li Feng Screenwriter
Poon Hang-sang Cinematographer
Virginia Katz Editor
Bill Kong Producer
Wu Lala Sound/Sound Designer
Richard Learoyd Editor
Jet Li Executive Producer, Producer
Mei Linmao Score Composer
Kenneth Mak Art Director
Yuen Woo Ping Choreography
Chui Po-chu Co-producer
Han Sanping Co-producer, Executive Producer
Han Saping Co-producer
Christine To Screenwriter
Shigeru Umebayashi Score Composer
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 10 )
Rating Distribution

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Sort by: Showing all of 10 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 1, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Jet Li is THE ONE

    Jet Li preformance as Huo Yuanjia is story about a martial arts champion. In the opening scene is face-to-face with the most ferocious fighters from the West and the final challenge - the Japanese for pride and redemption for China.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    hands down the best martial arts movie EVER!

    I love the story and the fight scenes! how oftan can you say that? and the end even got me teary eyed... VERY GOOD! and if you like action action the unrated version dont play. YOU SEE ACTION!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Clearly A Work of Love For Jet Li & Crew

    I confess, I haven't seen every film Li has ever made and further, I am not a huge fan of martial arts films. BUT... I you were going to see one film by this Master of the MA, it should be this one. Jet Li brings a pathos to the story and the character that is every bit as deeply troubled, as profoundly changed by events as the best tormented soul penned by Willy the Shake. It is rare to find an actor who can bring such a tragic hero to full life without slipping into what is typically a characature of a man "pretending" to be tortured. I suspect that Li, after spending years on his own inward journey, a hallmark of a true Master, called upon those painful personal experiences to connect with his character and the results are no less than Oscar worthy. To find an epic tale told in Chinese cinema is easy enough because most deal with the sweep of history. But, the quality of this production, in all aspects, are well beyond what we would typically expect. From Director to second unit work, everything clicks and you absolutely care about this guy. That is the gold for any screenwriter you want the audience to feel what your hero feels and we do. Given that translation is difficult at best, here you'll note a quantum leap in value. Even though there is plenty of exposition -- telling us backstory instead of weaving it into the action -- it was appropriate to the overall storyline. Beautifully photographed, with rich set design, simple but effective dream sequences, clean point-of-view camera work and nicely done editing, this is a film worth seeing at least twice because the back story is historical and should be viewed from that aspect as well. But the one we all resonate with is that of the personal tragedy of Jet Li's character. This is a film that will be in my very small library to study and learn from. A simple story, well told, with characters you can and want to care about. Thanks Mr. Li. You will be missed from this genre of film by your ardent fans and you can now include me among them.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    No Jet Li don’t go!

    What can us viewers do to change your mine…o well I got to say that director Ronny Yu has made the right choice of casting Jet Li as Huo Yuan Jia, after Jet portrays Huang Fei Hong in his remarkable ‘Once Upon A Time Trilogy.’ This has once again strengthened the image of Jet Li as the Chinese hero among the Chinese around the world. This is a glorified tribute to the famous Shanghai martial arts master, Huo Yuanjia. The above subject has also been visited by Jet himself in ‘Fist of the Legend.’ The movie starts with Huo Yuanjia's famous tournament against the champions of the Sphere of Influence nations. We get to the Japanese challenger and then are sent into a flashback to Huo's youth. We are given the details of Huo's early life, his trials and tribulations. How he was, what he became and how he got there. This section is full of all the other parts of martial arts that have nothing to do with fighting (at this point I'm thinking fondly of Bruce's ‘Circle of Iron.’All the fight scenes through out the film are choreographed well and are quite exciting. Fearless does carry the message not to resort violence to settle any problem, where we can see how violence did to Huo's loved ones. The showdown between Huo and other foreign fighters also promotes the idea of sparing your enemy a chance, no matter how deadly they could be. This, somehow, reflects on part of the idea and philosophy Jet Li understands and promotes from his one year Buddhism studies. As this is a semi-bio-pic, it runs into the same inherent problems in the genre namely that you must have something invested in the person already. The person must be someone you know something or care something about. Rarely does a movie in this genre make you care about the character if you are not interested. It is much like hypnosis, if you do not believe you will not be put under. As for this film being Jet Li's last epic, it breaks my heart but I really did enjoy it. In his own words, it's a representation of his own struggles as an actor/martial artist. It's all him (maybe a tiny bit of wire-work)! If this is what he identifies with, how he wants to end it, why should we expect him to do otherwise. I think I paid more attention to the time period, understood the dialogue, learn the lesson of respect, not everyone are vengeance driven, an eye for an eye... etc. If you are telling a story about a historical character, it has to be believable to a point, not over the top, but not everything is going to be completely accurate. Despite what others say about how boring it is... it’s simply not and I’m ending this with a recommendation.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Great martial arts movie

    I loved this Jet Li flick! It's dubbed in english and has a good story. See this one!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    A Fitting Valedictory for Jet Li

    Jet Li has been an impressive presence in film as a martial arts practitioner and choreographer both in his native China and in his US films. He has selected FEARLESS as his final film as a martial artist and a better choice of story for a final bow could not be imagined. Based on the life of Chinese Martial Arts Master Huo Yuanjia (1869-1910), the founder and spiritual leader of the Jin Wu Sports Federation still in existence internationally, Jet Li acts the role of Huo Yuanjia, a man whose father's heroics were surpassed only by his compassion, a trait the film shows us to be the lesson learned by Huo Yuanjia. Beginning with his childhood where all of his influences and those people who altered his life are introduced by child actors (the weakest portion of this film), he grows into the role as champion Washu fighter of his province, but his championship is not without problems: he inadvertently kills his final opponent opening a series of tragedies that drives him, a broken man, into the rural area of China where he learns the simple life and ideals of his people. He returns to his province to visit the sites of his family's memorials and the memorial of the man he killed. He further accepts a challenge to fight again only this time despite onerous odds he allows his spiritual awakening to govern the outcome. The film is lushly beautiful with some of the finest cinematography of China we have yet to see. The choreography of the fight sequences is superb and Jet Li commits his all to the role both as actor and martial arts fighter. The audience is left feeling a new sense of respect for the travails of China at the early part of the 20th century, for the field of Marital Arts, for the dignity of one of China's heroes, and for the performer/actor Jet Li. It is a most fitting valedictory. Grady Harp

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 28, 2008

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    Posted May 24, 2009

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 28, 2010

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 4, 2010

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Sort by: Showing all of 10 Customer Reviews