Plot: What’s it about?
Huo Yuanjia (Jet Li) has always been a warrior, even a child he looked up to his father, who served as the head of a prominent martial arts school. Huo loved to watch his father in action, but he wasn’t as good of a student as he should have been. When his father was defeated in battle, Huo fought the man’s son, but was also defeated and left humbled. He decides then and there to never lose again, so he trained hard and for years, was able to take down anyone who challenged his skills. But in one such battle, things take a tragic turn and Huo is unable to cope with the consequences of his actions. He takes refuge in a rural village, where he turns to work and a simpler lifestyle to find himself again. After some time passes, he returns to make things right, but discovers his people have been taken over by foreign powers. Huo is forced to fight a mammoth of a man known as Hercules O’Brien, but that is just the start of his battle. The foreign powers seek to eliminate his presence, so he is put against the best warriors each nation has to offer. Even as his past haunts him, can he prove he is a true hero and use his skills to help those who need a warrior to stand up for them?
This movie was advertised as Jet Li’s final martial arts epic, so I expected Fearless to be a grand finale, with no holds barred. While I still prefer Jackie Chan or Bruce Lee, Jet Li has made some incredible movies and pulled off some wicked sequences. His style is unique and he even made a decent transition into non martial arts cinema, though still within the action realm. Fearless is a fine send off for a martial arts master, a return to a more old school approach to action. The story is solid, with roots in real life events, but things remain simple and the focus is placed on the action elements. If I had to sum up Fearless is one word, it would be fun, as this movie is a blast to watch, even after repeat viewings. The wire work we’ve seen overused in recent years is sparse, so this is all about the choreography and with Yuen Woo Ping in charge, you know the fights are awesome. As I said, its kind of old school, but that is refreshing after seeing the same style recycled so much in recent films. Jet Li shines here, giving us a dynamic and memorable performance, with some jaw dropping moments. If this is the end of Li’s martial arts cinema, then at least his final effort was a great one. Of course, I hope he changes his mind, but no matter what, Fearless is a lot of fun and is highly recommended.
Video: How does it look?
Fearless is presented in 2.40:1 anamorphic widescreen. This image is rock solid, with much improvement over the DVD, but it isn’t up with Blu-ray’s best. The level of detail is excellent, with some scenes delivering the kind of eye popping depth that makes high definition such a pleasure to watch. Not all scenes perform up to that level, but most do, so Fearless is impressive here. I found contrast to be smooth and consistent, while colors look bright and natural. A little manipulation of the color spectrum and contrast is present, but the film’s visual design is upheld well. This is a great visual effort and fans should be satisfied.
Audio: How does it sound?
A new DTS HD 5.1 option has been conjured up and it sounds superb, a sizable step up from even the HD-DVD’s audio performance. This one is loaded with bone crunching fights, so the surrounds make sure each punch and kick can be felt, which really adds to those scenes. Even more reserved scenes have great presence however, so not just the action scenes benefit from the upgrade in audio elements. Not much else to report, just a dynamic and effective presentation. This disc also includes a DTS 5.1 option, French language track, and subtitles in English, Spanish, and French.
Supplements: What are the extras?
The sole supplement here is a brief featurette.