Jet Li's Fearless (2006) - Unrated

Genre(s): Action / Drama / Thriller
Rogue Pictures || Unrated - 104 minutes - $29.98 || December 19, 2006
Reviewer: Elyusha Vafaeisefat || Posted On: 2006-12-14

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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

A U D I O &
.:: V I D E O ::.

Audio and Video

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Director: Ronny Yu
Writer(s): Chris Chow (written by)
Cast: Jet Li, Shido Nakamura, Betty Sun, Yong Dong

Theatrical Release Date: September 22, 2006

Supplemental Material:
  • Deleted Scene
  • 'A Fearless Journey' Featurette

Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Widescreen (2.40)
  • English (Dolby Digital 5.1), Manderin (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English

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.::THE FILM::.


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Fearless has been touted as kung fu legend Jet Li's last epic martial arts film. It's not difficult to believe since Li is approaching his mid to late 40's. That being said, reports are out that Jet Li will be teaming up with fellow martial arts legend Jackie Chan on a new action film in the next few years. So I guess it all depends on what "martial arts epic" is defined as.

Li has been internationally known for his martial arts films for the past 15+ years. His most well known to date is Fist of Legend and the Once Upon a Time in China series. Li has also made several American martial arts films like The One, Kiss of the Dragon, Unleashed and Romeo Must Die. With the exception of Unleashed, none of his American films seem to be any good. Li seems to be uncomfortable making American films and his performances are often unenthusiastic because English is not his native language. So when he decided to make Hero, I was happy to see Li back in his true form and the result of the film was a martial arts masterpiece.

That now brings us to Fearless, another film in which Li chose to do in China rather than in the United States. This time Li has teamed up with Ronny Yu, who has also made the move to Hollywood films (most recently with Freddy vs. Jason). In addition to that, Li has also teamed up with legendary fight choreographer Yuen Wo-ping who also made the move to Hollywood films. So the collaboration of all these veteran martial arts experts makes Fearless a truly great martial arts film.

The story is based on a real historical character Huo Yuanjia who was the founder of the Jin Wu Sports Federation. Huo Yuanjia has been remembered as a national hero in China for almost 100 years now. The film itself is actually quite good and has a great deal of political undertones. That is not surprising considering the fact that many of these martial arts films are financed by the Chinese government. Hero is a great example of this and many criticized that film for its support of communist ideals. While this film is not as blatant a political film, the undertones of politics are there. One of the main themes of the film is the West invading the East and changing tradition. In addition to that, Li's character fights the big tough American boxer named O'Brien and the parallels between O'Brien and America are obvious. O'Brien is known for his intimidation of smaller fighters and his size, similar to what America is known for around the world politically. Li also fights fighters from Japan, Britain, Spain and Belgium. I don't want to give too much away but many of these fights have obvious political undertones, especially the fight between Li and the Japanese fighter.

That being said, the film still works thanks to the amazing fight sequences. I found a lot of the fight scenes more gritty than usual. In many of these martial arts films, the scenes look more like a ballet than a fight but that is not the case with all the fights in Fearless. Probably the best fight scene in the entire film is where Li's character fights one of his rivals in a restaurant. The scene is darkly lit, gritty and parts of the scene are done with a handheld camera, which adds even more to the intensity of the fight scene. I also found that director Ronny Yu, Jet Li and Yuen Wo-ping seem to have reduced the wire work that these types of films are known for. Films like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, House of Flying Daggers and the aforementioned Hero, sometimes can take you out of the scene if the wire work is overdone. In this film, I found the wire work subdued and it works very well.

The story is not strong but not necessarily weak either. I found the film better than House of Flying Daggers, Iron Monkey and pretty much all of Li's American martial arts films. However, I found Fearless a few steps below Crouching Tiger and Hero because I feel those films had stronger stories than this one. That being said, I found the fight sequences just as good in this film and I would go so far as to say they are some of the best I have ever seen.


With most foreign films, the extras are on the lower end. This film only contains two extras:

The first is a deleted scene which runs about 6 minutes. Many DVD's include "deleted scenes" as part of their extras but they only end up being alternate takes of scenes we've already seen. For this film, the extra is actually an entire deleted scene. That being said, it's not really a scene that was needed. The scene is basically an excuse for another fight scene in the film. I am glad they left it out because it would not have added anything to the film and would have thrown off the pacing a great deal.

The second extra is A Fearless Journey which runs about 16 minutes. It is a making of extra that focuses mostly on Li's past body of work and why Li decided to make this his final martial arts epic. They also discuss the fight choreography for the film and how all the filmmakers wanted to do something that hadn't been done before.



The audio for the film works quite well given all the action sequences in the film. The DVD includes the original Mandarin track as well as a dubbed English track. Both the Mandarin language track and the English dub are in 5.1 Dolby Digital.

The video quality is equally as good. The DVD is in anamorphic widescreen with an aspect ratio of 2.40:1. While the film has a great deal of breathtaking shots from cinematographer Hang-Sang Poon, the darker and grittier scenes come off very well too.


While the extras are on the lower end, the film is still worth owning for its incredible action sequences. I would have liked to see a commentary by director Ronny Yu and more about the fight choreography between Yuen Wo-ping and Jet Li. It also would have been nice to see an extra about the various fighting styles the fighters have over the course of the film. That being said, the DVD is still worth owning for the film alone. The DVD includes the original theatrical version of the film as well as the unrated cut (which runs a whopping 1 minute longer). The film separates itself from other martial arts epics for is more gritty and violent fight scenes. Fans of Jet Li and this style of filmmaking will enjoy Fearless a great deal for that.