To me, this movie is perfection.
Best movie ever!
Absolutely the worst movie.
Jet Li has some excellent fight scenes from fight choreographer Yuen Wo Ping. "Fearless" is based on the true life story of Huo Yuanjia, who took on all foreign fighters during a time of Chinese occupation and boosted national morale. It's a story that's ripe with possibilities, but it's sadly used as merely an excuse to stage one fight after another. Another disappointment is that director Ronny Yudoesn't bring a lot of style or energy to the fights nearly as well as Li's other frequent collaborators like Corey Yuen or Tsui Hark. Still, Jet LI is amazing and Yuen Woo Ping always delivers the goods, and that is more than enough to carry this film.
Prematurely billed as Jet Li's final martial arts epic, Fearless follows the -mostly- true story of Huo Yuanjia who rose to fame defeating foreign fighters in a time where China was facing encroachment from a militant Japan and Western colonials; he also founded one of the largest Wushu organisations in the world.The story traces his early life as an arrogant, ambitious upstart fighter to an upstanding humble defender of China and the moral values inherent in Wushu. The story told is an inspiring one, of co-operation over confrontation, which unfortunately is yet to become the wide consensus. Though engaging, the beats of the story could be drawn from the book of clichés. Both the imagery and the dialogue lack any form of subtlety, particularly in the first half of the film as Jet Li's character 'matures'.The film relies on Jet Li to carry the movie, both as the only truly developed character in the film and forced to portray a spectrum of emotions. Amid tragedies that his character faces, arrogance turns to humility in what is a relatively short space of time, yet Jet Li makes it believable and real. He is of course helped along from the already mentioned weathered old storyline. The quiet exile where one 'finds themselves' is particularly trite.This is still-somewhat- a martial arts piece, and some could argue that in such a film the story is irrelevant. Though with such a strong message that would be an unfortunate conclusion here. Nevertheless, Yuen Woo-Ping is on top form for the fight scenes here, bettering most of his 'Western' work at the least. The fighting switches from flamboyance to raw brutality, and sports a fantastic variety in one-on-ones. The fights between Yuanjia and Master Chin, and against Tanaka, are particular standouts.There have been some suggestions of 'Chinese propaganda' and a one dimensional role for the 'Westerners'. Of the former charge, I'd say its patriotic and disdainful of colonialism, but neither of these are crimes. Of the latter, I was quite enjoying the portrayal, solely as the evil moustache twirlers. This spoke more to me as a hypocritical attitude from some of the 'West', and the charges are certainly exaggerated.As a note, and it may be especially relevant to the last point on one-dimensional 'villains', but this is based solely on viewings of the theatrical edition, and not the directors cut, which adds a significant 40 minutes to the length. While it's been said to be unwieldy long, the film could have done with a bit more character development, as the film is a relatively tight 1 hour 40 minutes, and Jet Li's character arc is of significant length.Certainly, the film looks great, particularly with the action scenes, and the themes are solid. The film is just disappointing for lacking any originality with its themes, and worse, originality in portraying them. It doesn't stray away from the playbook, and repeat viewings serve to make this more obvious. It takes a safe route, but by no means a bad one.
This movie is a great sense of how to learn about yourself in a pursue of happiness. It is uncommon for people in this day and age, for one, to find true happiness in what they do. Most die and never see real importance of life and their own propose. This movie is one of my favorites because, Huo dreams so big into being the best Wushu master and claiming his house name among china, that he not only forgets what is most important to him, but he sacrifices the lives around him for his own endeavor. After realizing what he has done, he leaves uncertain of his own motivation in his life. Then he is picked up, aged, and in a isolated place where he learns the meaning of life and how to grow. He learns here that not only is his dreams still worth chasing but the reasons why he does it is not for his own greed, but rather for the teaching of others. He realize through honorable competition he can find himself, learn who he is and in his place of happiness die with peace. For he has left others to do good. Unfortunately, my review probably still does not do justice for this film but I would recommend this movie to everyone in hopes that they see, what my words lack.
FEARLESS stars Jet Li in what is supposedly his final martial arts epic. The actor has mentioned that this is a summary of his thoughts and philosophy of wushu, an art he has so breathtakingly performed for decades, that has seen him not only become one of China's biggest movie stars, but also labeled possibly the greatest wushu practitioner in the contemporary era. Li plays legendary pugilist Huo Yuan Jia, who is depicted here as a talented but cocky fighter from a well to do family. His own arrogance soon results in tragedy, which leads him to undergo a metamorphosis that lets him understand the true meaning of martial arts, and ignites his desire to enlighten others in an oppressed China marred by invaders. Yuen Woo Ping shines again and puts Li's talents to wonderful use for one last time. Apart from the brilliant unarmed combat sequences, he also utilizes various weapons, the highlight certainly being the three section staff which Li maneuvers with such audacity and elegance. There is something about his performance that always makes him special; a personality of sorts. Amidst the mechanical choreography, he presents beautiful rhythm and fluidity, like investing emotions to a piano piece.Kudos to Ronny Yu for presenting a film that is able to identify martial arts not as a tool to protect one's pride, but a path for liberating people. While the film still utilizes the typical foreign antagonists as a foil for Huo to defend Chinese pride(again), Yu can be forgiven for portraying them as respectful martial artists who, rather than wanting Huo dead, were shared his knowledge and qualities derived from wushu, humility and compassion among them. All in all, FEARLESS is a wonderful film which not only showcases the artistic side to Jet's beloved craft, but also carries an important message about overcoming yourself and treasuring life, which is a rarity among kung fu movies.Thank you, Jet Li, for your countless, brilliant performances of this magnificent art. It's been one hell of a ride.