Jet Li’s Fearless (Huo Yuan Jia) (2006) Review

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A Fearless Review.

Jet Li’s Fearless: 6 out of 10: This movie is a true near miss. For most of its running time it is action packed with handsome photography and gritty realistic fight scenes. Too bad a too predictable by half story and Jet Li’s performance hold it back from greatness.

What the move does right, however, it does very well. The fight scenes are both extremely well choreographed and differ in tone and skill from each other. Except for the final fight, they are all very satisfying. They range from an acrophobic set piece early on above a busy city square to a humorous match between Li and a boxer that reminds one of Rocky’s fight against Hulk Hogan in Rocky III.

There is no obvious wire work, or CGI involved. This is the real deal. Had the movie stuck with its strengths, it would have been much better off.

Unfortunately, halfway through the film Jet Li’s character (A loosely interpreted version of a real historical Chinese patriot) forgoes fighting for a life in an idyllic rice patty. Like the picture perfect Japanese village in The Last Samurai, the rice patty is an idolized place with supermodel blind girls and hobbits. (Okay, I made the hobbits part up but try to watch the scenes and not think of Middle Earth.) Jet Li’s acting in the transformation scenes is wanting and his costars (especially best friend Dong Yong) steal every scene they are in.

It is hard to get emotionally connected with the character (Who goes from brash youth to wise old man after a couple of rice plantings with little transformation and no gray area or shadings of personality. Both characterizations are broad and seem like two different people.) This leads to a sterile finale. I couldn’t care about the character or his cause. Though the story is more fleshed out than say in Hero, the character is too broad to identify with as an individual. That said, I loved the fight scenes.

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