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Decemeber 2006

DVD REVIEW
JET LI’S FEARLESS (Huo Yuanjia)

by Kam Williams

DVD REVIEW
JET LI’S FEARLESS (Huo Yuanjia)


Cast: Jet Li, Shido Nakamura, Betty Sun, Yong Dong, Hee Ching Paw
Director: Ronny Yu
Format: AC-3, Color, Dolby, Dubbed, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
Language: Cantonese
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Number of discs: 1
Rating
Studio: Universal Studios
DVD Release Date: December 19, 2006
Run Time: 104 minutes
DVD Features:
Available Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
Available Audio Tracks: English (Dolby Digital 5.1), Mandarin (Dolby Digital 5.1)
Deleted scene
Featurette: "A Fearless Journey"
Includes original theatrical version

   

 

 

 

Huo Yuanjia (1868-1910) was the most famous, Chinese martial arts master at the turn of the 20th Century. He is probably best remembered for the spiritually-oriented school he founded in Shanghai about seventy days before he died. For that dojo would blossom into the Chin Woo Athletic Association, a successful franchise which shared the guru’s closely-guarded fighting secrets with the general public, but with an emphasis on the used of violence only as a last resort.

Fearless revisits the life and times of Huo Yuanjia, chronicling the critical events which transformed the respected legend from a brutal fighter into a peace-loving patriot. In what has been billed as the last of his career (I’ll believe that when I don’t see it), Jet Li stars, here, as the beloved national hero.

Unfortunately, this historical drama is unlikely to find much of an audience outside of Asia. Why? Because the stunts are nowhere near as spectacular as your typical Bruce Lee high attrition-rate adventure, nor are they as magical as that of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, because the special effects here are mostly old school, instead of state-of-the-art. Plus, the costumes pale in comparison to Crouching Tiger’s, as do the locations which lack the latter’s spellbinding cinematographic capture. Even the basic plotline leaves a lot to be desired. In 25 words or less, the story unfolds as follows: Sickly, 98-pound weakling whips himself into a lean, mean fighting machine to get even with the bullies who teased him only to learn that revenge is not the answer, rather Chinese unity is.

This makes the Fearless more of a message movie designed for the mainland than a karate chopsocky for consumption in the West, where a martial arts movie has to be about butt-kicking to generate any traction.