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Movie Review: Fearless

Published September 22, 2006 in Movie Reviews
By Fred Topel | Image property of Focus Features.
Fearless Movie Poster Fearless
Did anyone else notice that Jet Li has made two martial arts films named after the two competing airplane crash movies of 1992? Hero starred Dustin Hoffman as a guy who rescues people from a crash, and Fearless had Jeff Bridges surviving a crash. These things just amuse me.

It makes sense for Fearless to be Jet Li’s last martial arts movie because he really puts everything he does in there. He’s fighting all the Asian styles, doing wirework in high places and even works his moves against American strongmen.

Fearless Movie Review

First of all, it’s great to see him with the Wong Fei-Hung hair braid again, but Huo Yuan Jia is not the same hero. He spends the first half of the movie as a cocky A-hole in a very relatable journey despite the time period. Just like celebrity today, Huo enjoys the popularity his martial arts skill brings but not the responsibilities. It’s pretty interesting to see a martial arts movie address the financial practicalities of taking on disciples.

Huo has a spiritual journey after he takes his fighting too far and all sorts of tragedy ensues. It’s kind of a master vs. master story, but these aren’t just random enemies. You really see how Huo brought everything upon himself, giving Li a chance to showcase a full range of emotions, from a family man acting cute with his little girl to a happy jerk to the more remorseful soul he usually plays.

Even though the story has significant themes, the martial arts battles are still awesome. Jet Li turns brute strength against itself and slams into muscle men. He humiliates the cavalry and at least equals a fellow swordsman.

There’s a montage of cool smackdowns where Huo has a retaliation for every kind of attack. An obstacle course arena gives Li a chance to fly around posts and manipulate gravity to maintain his footing. It seems Li can make his or anyone else’s body do whatever he wants it to with just a motion of his leg.

The fear of death is always present because they sign death waivers before each fight, and you just know he can’t be happy and boastful forever. Something bad has to happen.

The fights blend traditional wirework choreography with speed ramping, giving the encounters a modern feel without losing the essence of the choreography.

Parts of the middle section feel a tad slow, but that’s what the movie’s really about so how can you complain?

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Compiled By (Sources)
Fred Topel
Sources: Image property of Focus Features.

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