Jet Li's Fearless DVD: Review By Brian Gallagher

Phenomenal action sequences, slick new weapons, astounding direction and the swan song of one of the best ever, Jet Li.
  • Feature
  • Picture
  • Sound
  • Extras
  • Replay Value
Phenomenal action sequences, slick new weapons, astounding direction and the swan song of one of the best ever, Jet Li.
The script could've used some work and the special features are on the light side.
People who saw the breahtaking trailer to this movie last year were given a bit of a surprise when the trailer proclaimed this to be Jet Li's last martial arts epic. A quick look at his IMDB page might say otherwise though, as he is slated to star in a flick dubbed The Violent Land and is also set to star alongside another martial arts star, Jackie Chan, in their first film together. While those flicks don't look to be rooted in the wushu art form that he has mastered and made popular, I'm sure we'll get to see Li throw down in some fashion. But as it stands right now, Fearless is Jet Li's final martial arts flick, and he sure did pick a doozy to go out on top with.

Fearless is based on the true tale of Huo Yuanjia, a Chinese fighter who wanted to be the champion of the world, but ended up inspiring a nation. Yuanjia was a incredibly talented wushu fighter who had never lost a match and whose skill was matched only by his pride. C*cky and self-absorbed, Huo wants only to be champion, to make his father's style of wushu the best there is, and he does, at quite a price. After killing another wushu master, Huo's family is killed in retaliation, leaving him delirious and wandering the countryside aimlessly. It is only when he learns the true meaning of wushu that he makes his return, and must defend his nation's honor against the best fighters in the world.

The weakest point of this entire movie is the script, and it comes as no surprise that the two writers, Chris Chow and Christine To, are both rookie screenwriters. We get virtually no memorable dialogue here, and while the movie does flow at a discernable pace, it's plagued at times by some very poor transitions. But, then again, like porn movies, you don't necessarily watch these kinds of movies for their story. You watch them for the action, and in Fearless' case, the action more than makes up for the script's deficiencies.

These are some of the best fighting sequences you're likely to ever see on film. Using a combination of magnificent fighting venues and innovative weapons, director Ronny Yu along with legendary fight choreographer Yuen Wo Ping, have crafted some of the best sequences for the movie's ultimate weapon: Jet Li.

Li goes leaps and bounds beyond his previous movies, showing more range than ever before and proving that he is indeed a fine actor on top of being one of the best martial artists in the world. We probably get the best overall performance of Li's career, displaying a fluid mix of his extraordinary physical talents along with his much-improved acting skills. If this is Jet Li's swan song as a martial arts actor, it's one hell of a swan song indeed.
Sadly we don't get much here. There's one Deleted Scene which is actually a pretty damn good one. It's maybe 10 minutes long, give or take, and it's during Yuanjia's stay in the peaceful village, where a young boy is caught stealing a cow from a neighboring village, and Yuanjia goes with the village people to try and put a stop to it. I'm surprised that they deleted that scene because it would've really shown how far he had come in his own way of life, almost the full-circle transformation. It's well worth checking out.

The only other thing we get here is a featurette dubbed A Fearless Journey. This 15-minute feature has interviews with Li, director Ronny Yu and a few other crew members discussing many aspects of the film, even Li's decision to call it quits for the martial arts epic flicks. It's fairly entertaining, and I was really surprised when they had director of photography Poon Hang Sang tell us that they actually have to use a higher film speed just to capture all of the rapid-fire actions of Li. We get many more interesting tidbits about the film, and it's a fun watch, even though I wish there was more here and on the special features side as a whole.
The movie is presented in the anamorphic widescreen format, with a 2.40:1 aspect ratio.
The bone-crunching sound is heard through the Dolby Digital 5.1 format.
I thought this was a pretty slick design. It's set all against a blood-red backdrop, and there is nary an inch wasted on this layout. The front cover is all mainly a large shot of Li opening a samurai sword sheath with a few random shots above and below it. On the back we get a big critic's quote, and a few more action shots along with a nice syopsis in the middle along with a small special features box and the full credits and tech specs. This package definitely catches your eye with all the action and the red backdrop, and is just as busy as the movie is.
While I can't say that this is the best Jet Li movie I've ever seen, (Hero is tops for me) I must say it's a damn fitting ending to his legacy as a martial arts actor, if indeed that is what this flick is. Li says in the featurette that you really will learn about Li himself from this film, as it incorporates his values and ideals more than any other movie he's done. And while this might not be his best flick, it certainly does show that he's going out in top form, perhaps the best martial artist movie stars ever on film. This surely won't be his last movie, but it might be the last we see of him in this nature and, if that is the case, Fearless is one hell of a goodbye for one of the true martial arts legends of all-time.

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