Fearless

 
Directed by: Ronny Yu
Written by:Chris Chow
Starring: Jet Li, Anno Tanaka, Betty Sun, Dong Yong, Collin Chou, Nathan Jones
Released: August 24, 2006
Grade: B+

The first thing that grabbed me about Fearless is that it has been advertised as “Jet Li’s final martial arts epic”.  Does anyone know why?  Li has been making martial arts movies in China since 1979 and he rocketed to fame around the world with his role in Lethal Weapon 4.  He has since starred in Romeo Must Die, Kiss Of The Dragon, The One, Hero, Cradle 2 The Grave and Unleashed.  I’m not the biggest martial arts fan but I know that Li is damn good at what he does.

In the early 20th Century, China was losing its identity.  It had lost several wars and foreigners were starting to take control.  Morale was low amongst its citizens.  Throughout this, a martial artist by the name of Huo Yuanjia became renowned as the top fighter in China.  In competition, he defeated the best the rest of the world had to offer and his spirit helped inspire the people of China.

This story, which I’m sure is part truth and part legend, is the basis for Fearless.  It’s a well told story – filled with life lessons and some beautifully choreographed action sequences.  Li plays Yuanjia and does a fine job.  He starts out as a reckless, cocky individual but you see him transform into a more mature, purposeful fighter by film’s end.

Hong Kong born director Ronny Wu has done a great job and you can see his love of martial arts.  Assisting Wu was special martial arts director Yuen Wo Ping who worked on films including Kung Fu Hustle, Kill Bill and The Matrix Trilogy.  The cool cinematography doesn’t offer anything you haven’t seen before (especially if you’ve seen such films as Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon and Hero) but it’s fun to watch nevertheless.  Wu and writer Chris Chow have found a nice balance between story and action.