William J. (billystan3) from AUBURN, NY Reviewed on 1/18/2016...
Warning: If you are not a Jet Li fan and a Martial-Arts fan do not bother with this review or this film. Now I rated this film 31/2 out of five stars because I am a Jet Li fan and a Martial-Arts fan. Jet Li is in one of his best Chinese productions with this role. And he takes the Genre of Chinese films and raises the bar for any future films from that entire region of the world.
Martial Arts Action with Soul: Jet Li's Best in Years
Tsuyoshi | Kyoto, Japan | 05/03/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"[The following review refers to the 104 minute version of `Fearless' released in Japan in March, 2006, starring Jet Li.]
`Fearless" is inspired by the life of Huo Yuan Jia, real-life Chinese martial arts master. Jet Li plays this legendary figure, whose martial arts style and fearless fight helped the people in China regain their pride in the early 20th century when China was intimidated and humiliated by the growing Western and Japanese powers.
Well, so much for the history. Now, let's talk about actions. In `Fearless' Jet Li has shown his best performance since the days he did `Once Upon A Time In China' playing the role of Wong Fei Hung, another legendary hero in China, and the fight scenes (choreographed by Yuen Woo Ping) are all fantastic, sometimes visceral, and sometimes graceful, and always powerful. Good and smooth editing and gorgeous production designs also help greatly to create the background.
[JET LI'S PHILOSOPHY] After the opening martial arts competition sequences in Shanghai, 1910, the film begins to follow the life of Huo Yuan Jia from the days he was a boy in a flashback section. Jet Li and director Ronny Yu (yes, the guy who did `Bride of Chucky' and `Freddy vs. Jason') made a wise decision in showing Collin Chou as Father of young Huo Yuan Jia because the image of charismatic Chou (previously seen in two `Matrix' sequels as body guard Seraph) as the stern father who forbids his son to fight well-represents Li's philosophy about martial arts.
Yes, `Fearless' is a first-rate martial arts action film, but the film is more than that. The film, which was released under the title of `Spirit' in Japan, has Li's message about martial arts, which impresses without being obtrusive.
Besides splendid Collin Chou, the film has assembled interesting names from in and outside of Asia: Nathan Jones as `Hercules' one of Huo Yuan Jia's opponents: Anthony De Longis as Spanish fighter: Brandon Rhea as German fighter: Masato Harada (seen in `The Last Samurai') as Mr. Mita. Debuting actress Sun Li (Betty Li) is impressive as a blind girl, and so is Dong Yong who steals the show as Huo Yuan Jia's old friend. But probably to the Western viewers the real find is the Japanese rising star Shidou Nakamura as Anno Tanaka samurai fighter. Nakamura, who will be seen Clint Eastwood's `Red Sun, Black Sand,' is already known as a talented actor in Japan, and he shows it with the brilliant fight scenes.
But the film is of course a Jet Li film, with the genuine actions that no one but he can do, and Li also succeeds in bringing life and dignity into the character of Huo Yuan Jia. As you know, it is said that `Fearless' will be the last martial arts film for Jet Li. I don't know if it is really true, but I know this is his best film in years."
This version of the film is a travesty.
Jeff Rockwell | The Island, British Columbia Canada | 06/23/2007
(1 out of 5 stars)
"When I first saw this movie (the 104 minute version we have here) in the theatre I enjoyed it very much, but I left with the nagging feeling that something wasn't right about it. A minor quibble was that a good part of the film's main climactic scene took place right at the beginning, but more bothersome to me was the fact that the film didn't seem sure of itself-- like it couldn't decide if it wanted to be a run-of-the mill martial arts picture, or a telling of a historical tale with an underlying philosophical message. Structurally it came across primarily as the former, but watching this in the theatre I had the nagging feeling that something much deeper was inside longing to emerge. For one thing, the 104 minute version contains very choppy editing. Great spans of history pass along in a flash. For example, during the scene where Huo is living in the village, years are supposed to have passed for him there, however one gets the feeling watching this that it has only been a few weeks. Furthermore, one simply doesn't buy, in this version of the movie, that he has really learned the lessons he is supposed to have learned-- or even that the film itself has much awareness of what those lessons were. The narrative seems very rushed, as though the filmmakers simply couldn't be bothered to tell their own story and were eager for the next fight scene to come along. I remember leaving the theatre thinking that it was a good movie, but also that a better, more fulfilling story, was waiting to be told about this fascinating character. Little did I know!
Fast forward a few months to the release of this DVD. I bought it, as I said I enjoyed the movie, but when I watched it I noticed something different about the subtitles-- they seemed to lack the same penetrating subtlety of perception that were found within the best scenes of the theatrical version. The two most glaring examples were during the "Tea" scene, where a very profound exchange between Huo and Tanaka gets reduced to a bunch of gibberish, and at the end, when Tanaka's manager asks him how he could say that Huo won and (in the theatrical version) he says "I know it in my heart" whereas in this version he simply mutters a threat. Again, it's still a good movie on some level, but watching this version one can't help the feeling that there is something much better within it waiting to come out.
AND THERE MOST CERTAINLY IS.
Surfing around online one night I discovered that there exists a "Director's Cut" of this movie that was released early this year (only in China though) that contained a whopping /40 minutes/ of extra footage. 40 minutes? How do you add 40 minutes to a 100 minute movie without basically making a whole new movie? This I had to find out. Fortunately I had previously hacked my DVD player to play all regions so I didn't hesitate to order the movie (which is presently only available in a region 3 compatible format). When I eventually watched the film, I came to a number of realizations.
1) This was the movie that was originally intended. It is not one of those "Director's Cuts" where loads of extra unnecessary crap is tacked on. This was the movie that was made to be seen, and it was butchered for its North American release.
2) The movie is an absolute masterpiece and currently resides in my top 5 movies of all time. I do not say this lightly. All my uneasiness about the 104 minute version evaporated entirely with this one. For one thing the structure of the narrative is greatly improved-- the climactic fight scene takes place at the end (where it was always supposed to and where it feels much more natural). For another, the movie actually feels like a story now-- told completely and deliberately. The bulk of the footage that was reinserted was from the movie's middle (and most important) act, where Huo is on his self-imposed exile. This version actually takes the time to flesh out Huo's relationship with Moon, and to show us exactly how the cosmic forces conspired to show him the error in his previous mode of life. One really gets the feeling watching this version, that Li's character is evolving, and the transition is very believable-- we are right there beside him, taking notes. Compare this to the shorter version where everything seemed disjointed and rushed. Furthermore, the Director's Cut contains more footage of Huo as a precocious child, which does much to give us a full picture of his life and spiritual evolution. An added bonus is that the Director's Cut contains the original, vastly superior subtitles, which actually seem to have been translated by someone who understood the story, and the subtlety of the philosophy it was trying to convey.
3) Lastly, whoever edited this movie for American theatres wanted to do away with the philosophical soul of this wonderful film, and leave us with a stereotypical "Kung Fu" flick. The result was that one of the greatest movies ever made was almost totally lost. If you just want to see Jet Li dominate, watch Fist of Legend. If you want to see the spirit and essence of the martial arts captured on screen, a wonderfully told story of a very fascinating character, and a beautiful portrait of how the forces of Nature are constantly conspiring to push us ahead in our spiritual advancement-- watch the Director's Cut of this film. Anything less is a waste of time. "
The prequel to Bruce Lee's Chinese Connection!
Sith Warlord | Iowa, USA | 12/11/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Let me just say that I cannot wait to own this movie. It was not until after watching it, when reviewing my copy of Bruce Lee's Chinese Connection, that I realized that Jet Li's Fearless is actually the prequel to Chinese Connection. Remember in the beginning of Chinese Connection, when they're talking about their master dying from poison? Well this movie shows you what happened to their master as he grew up and learned to be one of the greatest fighters in the world.
I have seen over a hundred "kung fu" movies. Most of them were "B" movies at best, but I watched them because of the fascinating martial arts battles which took place in them.
Jet Li's Fearless is by far the greatest martial arts film I have ever seen. The story, screenplay, fight coreography, acting and action are all top of the line.
The fight scenes demonstrate a realism which pays great attention to detail and the authenticity of actual martial arts styles and limitations. They depict characters dishing out and taking a lot of punishment, which was characteristic of practitioners of the Iron Fist, Iron Palm and Iron Body disciplines of Kung Fu.
Taking place in colonial China, it is the true story of a man who stands up for his country against an oppressive regime which is bent upon their humiliation and dehumanization. After defeating a champion British boxer in a boxing ring using amazing Kung Fu techniques, the main character, played by Jet Li, is challenged to partake in a special tournament. Within this tournament, he must defeat four of the world's greatest fighters. They include both masters of weapons and bare handed fighting techniques. Let's just say that the battles between them are epic and amazingly done.
If you enjoy martial arts films, this is a must see. If you know someone who likes them, this movie will not disapoint them. Buy it today, you won't regret it. The flashy fight scenes guarantee much replay value."
How to Fix the Problem with the Directors Cut...
World Teacher | WorldTeacher | 07/15/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Don't miss out on a great movie because of Universal Studios mistake!
It has been confirmed that JET LI'S FEARLESS: DIRECTOR'S CUT, Universal's highly anticipated re-release of Ronny Yu's Huo Yuanjia biopic promising nearly 40 minutes of additional footage is missing the director's cut. Released July 8th, it promised three versions of the movie, one of which was supposed to be the complete two hour and 21 minute director's cut. However, upon inspecting the two-disc release purchased from Walmart today both discs contain only 103-minute international and theatrical versions. Other readers have been e-mailing and posting messages on this site stating the same problem which suggests this defect is widespread.
Additionally, both discs appear to function erratically in my player. Disc two displays nothing but pixels and disc one periodically will not start up. I was only able to confirm the contents of disc two by using a disc burning tool. Both discs appear to be identical and the director's cut is no where to be found despite what the back cover clearly states.
Universal was unavailable for comment at the time of writing and an e-mail sent Thursday has so far gone unanswered.
At this point I would suggest that anyone who is considering buying this release to not do so until Universal releases corrected discs and issues a statement, preferably along with a recall.
For those who have already purchased the defective FEARLESS discs and are unable to return them to the store, try contacting Universal direct during normal, weekday business hours. You may also want to notify your local retailer.
Universal Home Entertainment Phone: 818-777-1000 E-mail: http://www.universalstudios.com/contact_form.php?email_id=10
!!Attention!! !!Attention!! !!Attention!! !!Attention!! Universal Studios Writes: Thank you for contacting Universal Studios Home Entertainment. We strive to provide the highest standard in product quality and customer care.
Please let us know your shipping address and daytime telephone number, and we will send you a postage paid envelope in which to return your "Jet Li's Fearless Director's Cut" disc #1 for replacement. In the envelope, please send the original disc #1 only, along with a copy of this correspondence.
Please allow 1 - 4 weeks to receive your replacement.
We appreciate your patronage and hope that you will continue to enjoy this and future Universal releases.
Consumer Relations UNIVERSAL STUDIOS HOME ENTERTAINMENT"
Excellent Movie- Bad DVD
Martial Movie Fandude | Honolulu | 12/21/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"The reason I am giving this DVD 3 stars is not because the movie is bad, but because the DVD version is bad. I loved the movie itself and for the most part agree with the positive reviews that have been posted here. I have been a Jet Li fan, as well as a martial arts movie fan in general, for many years and this is by far one of Jet Li's finest films. Unfortunately, this DVD version suffers from terrible subtitling and a lack of extras for the price. There are no theatrical trailers, only one deleted scene out of many which have been written about throughout the internet, and no running commentary. But the biggest problem I had, as mentioned earlier, was the subtitling. I had watched the Chinese released DVD before the theatrical release and then watched it in the theatre. There were some differences between these two versions in regards to the translation of the Mandarin and Japanese being spoken, but for the most part were the same. However, the translation for the US released DVD is totally different in some parts and to me ruined some of the more important dialogue. One example is when Huo Yinjia is explaining his philosophy on martial arts to his soon-to-be opponent Tanaka. Also, since I understand just a tad bit of Japanese I knew that some of the translations on this DVD were way off the mark and ruined the overall feeling of those scenes. This was not the case of the Chinese released DVD and the US theatrical release. Again, I'd like to make it very clear that the movie itself was awesome and would rate 5 stars in book. The 3 star rating is for the US released DVD. Whether you saw the movie in the theatre or want to watch it for the first time, I'd stay clear of this version and go to your local Chinatown or Ebay and purchase the Chinese version of the DVD. How or why they did such a poor job on the translation compared to the US theatrical release and the Chinese DVD is a mystery to me."