Jet Li's "Fearless" was marketed as his final martial arts film epic. In this day and age where the retirement of entertainers is rarely permanent, who knows if that really is the case. Regardless, that wasn't the reason I wanted to check this out anyway. The previews had it looking like it would probably be one of his best films yet.
"Fearless" hit me with another surprise when I discovered that it was based on a true story. It tells the tale of Chinese Martial Arts Master Huo Yuanjia who was the founder of the Jin Wu Sports Federation. He overcomes personal tragedy to take on a bout that will pit him against the major foreign powers in China. Huo could overcome any adversary yet couldn't overcome the politics that led to his demise.
I was sincerely hoping this wouldn't be another film with subtitles. Li has seemed to move in that direction in an effort to maintain authenticity to his films. Either that or he got tired of trying struggle with speaking English. The problem I have with subtitles is you get to so busy reading that you don't get a chance to soak in the acting that's also taking place. It breaks up the continuity a bit.
Li has made it a point to infuse martial arts scenes in his movies that are second-to-none. Not since the days of Bruce Lee has anyone else ever done it so successfully. Li even made it a point to cut down on some of the ridiculous hour-long levitation stances that had become common in the more modern martial arts flicks.
My guess would be that they went out of their way to call this his final martial arts film because Li's going to focus more on non-action films? I can admire him for that if that actually is the case. No one wants to see a 50-year-old man still trying to do karate (...cough...Jackie Chan...). I can also appreciate him leaving us a film like this to call his last if that's how he chooses to go out.
My rating: B