Jet Li's Fearless DVD: Review By Evan "Mushy" Jacobs

Jet Li has made a very well done martial arts film.
  • OVERALL
    4.0
    GREAT
  • Feature
  • Extras
  • Replay Value
THE GOOD
Jet Li has made a very well done martial arts film.
THE BAD
Why aren't their more deleted scenes on this DVD?
THE FEATURE
Jet Li's Fearless is a well told tale about Huo Yuanjia (Jet Li), a man forbidden to fight by his father, which only makes him want to learn that much more. He teaches himself martial arts and eventually Yuanjia begins to use his powers for ill gotten gains. Thinking he can't be defeated, Yuanjia takes on the vastly older warrior Qin Lei. Yuanjia kills Lei in their battle to the death, but everything has it's consequences and Yuanjia returns home to find that his parents have been killed. This sends Yuanjia on a downward spiral until he is cared for by a kind woman, and through experiencing her peaceful village realizes that he has been going down the wrong path with his martial arts training.

Yuanjia sets about restoring his family's name and eventually forms the Jingwu Sports Foundation. The end of the movie culminates with Yuanjia being forced to call upon his training , and battle many different kinds of fighters in a deadly Shanghai tournament. Packed with action and less artifice than we usually see from these martial arts films, Jet Li's Fearless is a fine action film that has a solid emotional core.
THE EXTRAS
A Fearless Journey

Jet Li walks us through the creation of this film. He discusses why he wanted to make it, what's different about it as opposed to other martial arts movies, and we also get to see him in action. I enjoyed this but I found that this section would probably play better for the big fans. What always amazes me about these movies is how directors are able to handle all of the story elements. This featurette takes us through the narrative, it explains the various martial arts styles, and it also allows us to get personal insights from the actor's themselves. There isn't anything too special about this featurette but it is worth a look.

Deleted Scene

This was an extra scene between Jet Li and some of the other characters that only served to deepen relationships. I am not too sure why it was cut (the film doesn't feel like it runs long at 104 minutes), but I am sure that the producers, editors, or whoever else, had their reasons for having it taken out of this movie. Judge for yourself.
THE VIDEO
Widescreen Letterbox for 16x9 TVs. Sometimes martial arts movies of this style really wear me out. I find all the action scenes and all the costumes (in addition to the scores) to be a little more than I like to handle. What made Jet Li's Fearless work for me is that this film was very light on that. Sure, it had big scenes, but I never felt as overwhelmed as I sometimes do. Also, I liked that the subject matter wasn't supposed to be in the subtext yet at the same time it was plain as day to see. This movie told the story of Yuanjia and it didn't feel the need to confuse things.
THE AUDIO
Dolby Digital 5.1. As this movie was done in the Mandarin dialect, I find it somewhat hard to talk about the audio since I spent the majority of the film reading the subtitles. The audio in terms of the soundtrack was pretty solid, but that is truthfully the only thing that I can speak to. What makes this movie work, I feel, is the fact that it is a very touching story about a man realizing the errors of his ways, there just happens to be a lot of kickass action scenes along the way.
THE PACKAGE
Jet Li stands on this red front cover unsheathing a sword as we see numerous fights happening all around him. The back cover gives us some pictures from the movie, a description, a Special Features listing, a cast list, and system specs. For some reason when I got this DVD, I thought that it was going to have more bells and whistles. This seems like the perfect title to come in a two disc edition with a lot more supplemental features. I guess having it in some of the next generation formats is a start, but I can't help but wonder what the fans are going to think.
THE FINAL WORD
I was surprised at how much I liked this movie. Normally, I don't go for these period, martial arts movies because they seem to take forever to make a point that is painfully obvious to anyone with any knowledge of movies. Where Jet Li's Fearless was different was in the fact that this movie dealt heavily in emotion. It drew on themes of family, going your own way, and I never once felt that these characters were manipulating me. This story played very simply, and because of that I feel that all the aspects of the narrative were able to be displayed. It could have also been the fact that my standards were a bit lower when I put the disc in, but I was truly impressed by Jet Li as both an actor and of course as the martial arts craftsman that he is.

If you are a fan of these sorts of films then you will really get a lot out of what Jet Li's Fearless has to offer. If you aren't, but you like good solid, action packed films, then I also think you will enjoy what this movie has to say.

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