Monday, March 22, 2010
I was in the mood for a kung fu film this weekend so I picked up a used copy of Jet Li's Fearless. Couldn't have made a better choice really, as an interview in the DVD extra's revealed, Li has decided to make an old fashion wushu film with a minimum of wirework or CGI effects. This one's all about the brawling. Pretty much a non stop series of fights. There is a story, presumably inspired by real life events, but for the most part Fearless is a throwback to the old Shaw Brothers days of kung fu films. I kept expecting someone to call someone "You bastard!" in a badly dubbed bit of dialogue.
Oddly enough, where most films of this sort are concerned with revenge (You killed Master!), in Fearless it is the seeking of revenge that almost destroys the protagonist. His eventual redemption comes from learning that his world view was seriously flawed.
Jet Li does a great job in this one, showing that at age 42 he can still punch and kick with the best of them. There are some wire shots in Fearless, but not too many. Though I enjoy the wow factor of Matrix-like moves, I do sometimes miss the days when you knew a martial arts movie star could really do most of what you saw on the screen. As Li points out in an interview, anyone can be made to look good with wires and CGI.
Anyway, Fearless has swords and spears and tri-sectional staffs and lots and lots of hand to hand combat. Jet Li said that this would be his last martial arts film. He said that with Fearless he had said all he had to say about wushu. If that's the case he picked a winner to go out on.