Note: This is a review of the Directors Cut. The story of Fearless is a definite soul searching movie. Young Yuanjia was an arrogant fighter who was always spoiling for a fight. On the same day he became the best fighter in Tianjin, he lost his mother and daughter. Crazed with grief and shame, Yuanjia fled Tianjin stumbling upon an idyllic village. Guided by the villagers’ simple kindness and generosity, Yuanjia began to forget his pain and his desire to fight. At last, he makes his peace with the world and decides to return home. Under the direction of Ronny Yu, one of Hong Kong’s most shining modern directors, Li couldn’t have picked a better movie for his presumed exit from the genre.
To clarify, it was advertised in America that this would be Li’s last martial arts film. That was false, mainly because American marketers are naive. It would actually be his last ‘wushu‘ [click the link for information about wushu] film. Frankly stated, after this film, there isn’t a need for another wushu film. This is Jet Li’s best movie, wushu or not. Sure, the film’s plot could be from one of a thousand different martial arts films; arrogant upstart ignoring all advice suffers greatly, learns humility and returns to triumph. But trust me, Fearless is so much more than that.
Set before the backdrop of China in the early 1900s, a time when the country was extremely vulnerable to foreign exploitation as various powers had taken control of the country, “Fearless” features some of the most remarkable martial arts sequences I have seen in years, hands down. Filmed with loving care, viewers are treated to a roller coaster between traditional wushu hand to hand fighting, weaponry bouts, and solemn contemplation of the more cerebral parts of life.
It may lack the ferocity of their previous work in Fist of Legend but the sequences still thrill and only get better as the movie progresses. Up to this day I had only watched the western domestic release of Fearless. That will forever collect dust on my wall of DVDs. The Director’s Cut demands multiple viewings to catch everything that wasn’t in the former mentioned release. The directors cut adds vital plot points and focuses more on character development then the previous theaterical run. If you are familiar with the Ridley Scott film, Kingdom of Heaven, it should be stated that the theatrical run of that movie was a hot mess compared to the near perfect directors cut on dvd. This is a similar case, although Fearless wasn’t a mess to begin with, the directors cut vastly improves upon the original release and should be the only mandatory purchasing option. With that in mind, up the ante, and pick it up on Blu-ray. It is gorgeous and there are some scenes that are so vibrant my jaw dropped. Strongly Recommended.