Fearless
He’s such a badass he can stop swords with his mind!

Theatrical Release Date: 01/26/2006 (Hong Kong), 09/22/2006 (USA)
Director: Ronny Yu
Cast: Jet Li

Coming to American cinemas in late September will be “Fearless”.

While the generic storyline and martial arts prowess should be of no surprise, probably the most unexpected is that this film is being billed as Jet Li’s final martial arts film.

He has stated in interviews that he wants to concentrate on more dramatic roles instead. However, Jet Li fans should not get too disheartened. He only said this is the last martial arts film he will do (and there’s no guarantee that will hold).

He still has the action film “Rogue” coming soon and I doubt this will be the last time we see him kick somebody across a room.

Now back to this film in particular, “Fearless” is about a martial arts champion who is the son of another great martial artist and learns the hard way what life is about and what role his deadly skills play in that life.

The story is as formulaic as they come. Jet Li rises to power, does something bad, secludes himself, discovers the kind of man he should be, returns to regain his honor, yada, yada, yada.

The film seemed to be adequately directed by Ronny Yu, who has a list of Chinese films to his credit, though his Hollywood fare has been less than stellar including “Freddy vs. Jason” and “Bride of Chucky”. Still, this is not a Hollywood film and Yu seems to be much better equipped at dealing with this genre than the slasher flicks.

I was disappointed to find out that there was a role played by Michelle Yeoh that ended up on the cutting room floor. However, the film is on the slow side and any cuts to streamline the pacing were probably for the best.

The deliberate movement of the film would not have been so bad if the version I saw had adequate subtitles. Hopefully, this will be fixed when it reaches a mass audience in a month or so but the subtitles I read were dreadful.

The grammar was off constantly, sometimes the sentences didn’t seem to make any sense, there were typos, and most annoying, every once in a while, a subtitle would blink on screen for about a quarter of a second and then never return.

It like read this paragap. You meaning understand but difficult emotion to convey.

Still, with all of that against it, I enjoyed the film. The action wasn’t anything too spectacular, considering previous films that have pushed the boundaries further, but they were well done.

The music was beautifully composed by Shigeru Umebayashi and the scenery was beautiful, though I could have done with a lot less CGI for the wide shots of Shanghai and other areas.

The film relies more on its dramatic core than its martial arts, but there is enough fighting to keep action fans entertained. I’m giving “Fearless” a 3 out of 5 and hope that Jet Li takes back what he said because he still has what it takes to be a martial arts film star.