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Film Review: Fearless 霍元甲 (2006) - Hong Kong / China

Andrew Chan Collin Chou Fearless Jet Li Ronny Yu

Fearless (2006) - Hong Kong / China

Reviewed by Andrew Chan (Film Critics Circle of Australia)

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Billed as Jet Li's final wushu film, Fearless directed by Ronny Yu is an epic affair. Watching the director cut's version with a duration of 2 hours and 35 minutes, a good 35 minutes longer, it definitely feels more complete, developed and coherent. In the former theatrical version, the middle redemption part is far too short to be convincing. A decade onwards, Fearless is every bit as brilliant and the well meaning wushu message of the biggest enemy is thyself plays extremely well with the three parts storyline. If this is truly Li's final wushu film, it's a honest and proud finale. 

Li headlines as Fok Yuen Gaap, the Kung fu Master that developed the famous Jing Wu School spreading the word on the importance of peace, mind and body as the true meaning of martial arts. Li grew as an actor in this role as he is required to act as a character growing through life, death, honour and legacy. Such is the beauty of Li's performance that he is able to develop an incredible character where the audience ended up rooting for his situation and national pride. Sun Li plays the blind country girl leading to Li's eventually redemption. Her gracefully and human nature is easily felt. Colin Chou appears in an extended cameo as Li's father whose righteousness and sacrifice is not understood by Li until later in his life.

All in all, Fearless is a fitting finale to wrap up 25 years of wushu filmmaking for Jet Li and together with the best in the field in Yuen Woo Ping and Ronny Yu long awaited returning to form after films like Freddy Vs Jason, this is easily the martial arts epic that most fans will be happy to seat back and rewatch for many years ahead. 

I rated it 9/10


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