Jet Li’s FEARLESS Director’s Cut Blu-ray Review

     January 8, 2009

Written by Ben Begley

When “Jet Li’s Fearless” was released it was marketed as Jet Li’s final martial arts epic and the ultimate kung-fu movie. After looking back it only delivered halfway on both accounts. It was his last Wushu traditional martial arts film, but since this movie came out he’s made several other films including “The Forbidden Kingdom” and “The Mummy Tomb of the Dragon Emperor” so it may have been more of a publicity stunt to get people to see it, then an actual retirement. As far as I can see, Jet Li is still kicking ass, even if the movies he picks don’t do so well. And about the film being one of the best martial arts films, it’s a very capable film and has a lot of great action sequences that sometimes get bogged down by flashy camera techniques and over-used slow motion, and with the director’s cut get lost in the lack of pacing with 40 more minutes bogging the film down. For those of you who haven’t seen any of this films three versions (Theatrical, Unrated, or Director’s Cut) here’s the plot rundown.

The film is about the true story of one of China’s most famous fighters Huo Yuanjia. Tracing back to his childhood when his life goal of being the best fighter in the world is established after being bullied too much, Huo begins training at a young age. When he reaches adulthood he is nearly unstoppable and challenges everyone in his village, winning each fight effortlessly, until he fights the leader of a rival clan. The fight is brutal and Huo goes too far when he deals one final blow that ends up killing his opponent. In retaliation one of the younger members of the rival clan kills Huo’s mother and daughter. Huo exiles himself to a secluded village where he starts making steps toward his redemption, eventually leading him back to fight again for the honor of China in the Shanghai Tournament.

The story itself is really amazing and the unrated cut does a fine job of exploring the life of Huo without making you feel like your watching a drawn out biopic and has a little added blood here and there during fight scenes that add to the realism. The fact that Huo overcame so much and reestablished Chinese pride is well explored, until this tournament the Chinese were deemed weaker then the foreign powers residing in their country. He became the world’s greatest fighter and each fight throughout the film showcases both the amazing feats he achieved, and also just how talented of a martial artist Jet Li is.

This film does an incredible job of showing an action packed greatest hits of Jet Li’s fighting styles and abilities and is really exciting to watch when the action is roaring. Hammy acting bogs some of the plot and more dramatic scenes down and especially in the director’s cut there is just way too much added dialogue scenes. Including a completely unnecessary scene in modern day China with Michelle Yeoh advocating Wushu being allowed as an Olympic sport. In the director’s cut there is one added fight scene in the middle when Huo is with the villagers and a rival tribe tries to punish a young boy. He ends up whooping some ass and it’s a good addition to the plot and action, but the rest I could have done without. I didn’t need 15 more minutes of Huo as a child or just 40 more minutes added to the features running time. 2 hours and 20 minutes is way too long for an action film and the movie doesn’t have the emotional punch to sustain the epic running time either. If you’re going to watch this film, stick to the unrated cut and enjoy, otherwise you may find yourself really bored and cheated from the impact and excitement of the shorter version.

Special Features

Just a short making of about 16 minutes, good stuff, but nothing Earth shattering and definitely should have had more for the Blu-ray release.

The High Definition and perfect audio adds to the excitement of seeing Jet Li kick some ass in crystal clear picture quality, so definitely worth buying if this is your first go around with the film, if you already have it though that’s a different story. No added features may dissuade most buyers from coughing up more dough on the third release of a film.

Unrated Cut – B plus

Director’s Cut – C

Special Features – C

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