Directed by: Ronny Yu
Premise: A dramatization of the Chinese martial arts master Huo Yuanjia (Jet Li) who became a spiritual leader and the founder of the Jin Wu Sports Federation.
What Works: This film is a tribute piece to a Chinese folk hero and as that it plays very well. This is a slightly different film for Jet Li, who has often played stoic martial art masters. The role of Huo gives him a lot more latitude and he is able to take advantage of the emotional rise and fall of the story to demonstrate a greater range in his acting ability than he has before. The film has some great fight choreography that uses the subtleties in the sequences to render character and give a sense of dramatic relationships between characters.
What Doesn’t: The film has a number of narrative strands that do not come together. The love story between Huo and Moon (Li Sun) begins nicely but does not really go anywhere and has little bearing on the story except as the stock rural female character who teaches the city boy the value of patience and quiet. The final battle of the film, intending to complicated the fight by adding emotional weight, is anticlimactic because the relationship between Huo and Anno (Shido Nakamura) is unclear as to is what is at stake in the fight.
Bottom Line: Fearless does not stack up to the excellence of other recent marital art films such as Hero or The House of Flying Daggers. That said, this is still a satisfying film, even if it is formulaic.
Episode: #113 (October 22, 2006)