Fearless Review - Outstanding!
by Alex Billington
September 22, 2006
Fearless is a unique, compelling movie featuring the astonishing talents - both in martial arts and acting - of Jet Li. Based on a true story from Chinese history, Fearless tells the life story of fighter Huo Yuanjia (Li). Huo was the founder of the Jin Wu Sports Federation and brought much respect and appreciation to martial arts in Chinese culture at the turn of the 20th century. Fearless follows his entire life, from when he was a kid watching his father lose a fight in his town, to his incredible success and rise to become the champion fighter of the world. Progressing in a captivating way by starting the film at its end fight scene and using flashbacks regularly, Fearless leads to an incredible and powerful ending unlike anything ever done before in a martial arts movie.
Because of the real-life story surrounding Fearless, Jet Li took on this project and put all of his heart and all of his beliefs into making this film. His efforts have certainly paid off. Fearless is a near masterpiece of martial arts and storytelling. It takes much greater strides than other martial arts movies and puts together a strong plot full of emotion and excitement, while still offering plenty of fights. The detailed story allows Fearless to remain distinctive and incredible. Viewers will leave the theater with a newfound sense of honor and respect imparted by this film.
I can't continue without focusing on the martial arts and fight scenes. Jet Li is truly a master of this art. Fighting everyone with various weapons and in multiple locations, from a two-story restaurant to a boxing ring, he can pull it all off exquisitely. The fight scenes are choreographed perfectly and visually realistic, without overusing wire-fu effects or seeming improbable, especially given that this film was based on a real life fighter. These scenes are simply what make the film that much more outstanding. The camerawork is top notch and doesn't pull away for too long, leaving the entire fights intact from start to finish. If you're looking for some of the best martial arts fights, then this is one movie to add to your collection.
Jet Li as Huo Yuanjia, and his lifelong friend Nong Jinsun, played by Yong Dong, are the shining performers. Newcomer Betty Sun as the charming Moon also delivers a notable performance appearing briefly in the last half. Fearless delivers an all-around enjoyable experience from the very beginning to end due largely to the fantastic direction from Ronny Yu. Yu keeps the story progressive and smooth, holding back on jumping into fight scenes when necessary yet keeping the remaining scenes entertaining while leading up to the next fight. This extraordinary combination of acting, fight choreography, editing, and directing makes Fearless one of the greatest martial arts epics to come out in the last ten years.
Fearless is a masterpiece combination of storytelling and martial arts, even moreso than Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Jet Li is certainly one of the great martial artist-actor combinations ever to hit the big screen, in the company of such greats as Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan. Fearless is a tremendous film complete with breathtaking fight scenes, a powerful plot, and fantastic performances. Even for those who don't love martial arts, Fearless is still entertaining and exciting. This is definitely a must-see in theaters to take in the truly epic nature of Jet Li's capabilities.