As bad weeks go my last one was pretty dreadful. Work has been hell (currently on two projects), my bank account was locked out after a transaction got messed up, been trying to find a new flat-mate, and to top it all off I’ve been suffering from bad hay fever. I don’t like to moan but I’m sure glad it’s over!
The weekend has been much better thankfully – last night I went to see what is being billed as Jet Li’s “final martial art epic”: Fearless which portrays the life story of Chinese Martial Arts Master Huo Yuanjia (1869-1910).
This is one of those films which could be really good or really bad. Whilst being a bit predictable it’s thankfully the former and certainly one of the best in it’s genre – a fitting end for Jet Li’s on-screen wushu career. Whilst the end result is spectacular you can’t but help feeling that some of the exposition is missing and you’d be right. The film was savagely cut from 150 mins down to 103 mins to make it more “market friendly” which included removing a scene with Michelle Yeoh. It’s a shame but hopefully it’ll get the proper treatment on DVD.
The story covers an interesting part of Chinese history during the encroachment of Western powers in the early 1900’s. In a nutshell Jet Li plays Huo Yuan Jia, an arrogant man who is obsessed with being the top fighter of his province with little regard for others, even against the advice of his closest friend. After a misunderstanding he indirectly causes the tragic death of his family and runs away in a fit of madness. His journey takes him to a remote village where he is taken in by a local family to be nursed back to health by the blind daughter. After learning the value of humility he returns to Shanghai to defend his country’s honor…
The fight scenes are expertly choreographed by the legendary Woo Ping (Crouching Tiger, The Matrix, Kill Bill etc.) who executes each scene with elegance despite the raw violence taking place. Although prominent, the action does not however take precedence over the story which drives the narrative at a fast pace.
In the end the clear message is that violence is not the solution to solving problems… but it sure looks cool! Not to be missed – catch the trailer here (9/10).
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🙁 David hope things begin to get better soon. Sorry haven't been around much lately but haven't got my own PC until Thurs so am avoiding MSN for the most part. Talk to you soon.
Thanks for your insightful comments Stephanie!
I agree with what you say about the film and I think certainly it has added a new dimension to the martial arts genre. From a western perspective, it is very interesting to learn about this side of Chinese history and in many ways perhaps the films content is poignant today with the encroaching westernisation of the eastern world – something I think is a great shame. Cultural diversity is what makes the world interesting, it would be terrible to imagine the world just being like the US!
I will definitely try to find those films you mention – Jet Li is certainly the master 😀
I saw the film this week, not for the subject and the story, but for Jet Li, who is one of the martial art heroes in my heart. The fighting sequences are well crafted as they have always been with the Master Yuen's choreography. The story per se is extremely popular in China because of Huo YuanJia is widely considered as the national hero against foregin invations and colonisations in the last centry. However, I find some parts of the storylines too political and advocating to relate to. In general, Fearless is another good attemp from Jet Li to probe on the subject about life and death, war and peace, love and revenge, departing from acient Eastern philosophies, including Buddhism, Confucian and the essence of Wushu.
If you would like to see more martical art films starring Jet Li, I have several to recommend: Wong Fei Hung (aka. Once Upon A Time in China) , Fong Sai-Yuk (aka. The Legend) , and my favourite Xiao Ao Jiang Hu (aka Swordman I II) .
P.S. Your website looks very nice. I enjoy it!