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Jet Li's Fearless

Jet Li's Fearless

4.5 10
Director: Ronny Yu

Cast: Jet Li, Betty Sun, Dong Yong


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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


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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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.

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Universal Studios
Region Code:
[Wide Screen]
[Dolby AC-3 Surround Sound]

Special Features

A Fearless Journey: Join Jet Li as he explains the making of this definitive martial arts epic; Deleted scene ; Includes original theatrical version

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 Actor
Jean-Claude Leuyer Actor
Brandon Rhea Actor
Mike Leeder Actor
Sun Li Actor
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
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

Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Jet Li's Fearless
1. Sick Man of Asia (Main Titles) [5:33]
2. The Huo Wushu [6:53]
3. Trouble [4:53]
4. The Death Waiver [5:05]
5. No Competition [5:46]
6. Wounded Disciple [4:47]
7. A Declaration [2:33]
8. The Champion of Tianjin [6:00]
9. Vengeful Slaughter [5:45]
10. Cleansing [4:11]
11. Planting Rice [6:41]
12. Leaving [4:54]
13. Last Respects [5:28]
14. A New Challenge [3:47]
15. With Honor & Civility [6:06]
16. Jingwu Sports Federation [5:56]
17. Tea [2:02]
18. The Final Contest [5:37]
19. Stand Strong [7:57]
20. End Titles [3:39]


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