DVD Review: Jet Li’s Fearless (Blu-Ray)

Jet Li’s Fearless
Blu-ray Edition
Directed by Ronny Yu
Starring Jet Li, Nakamura Shidou, Sun Li, Dong Yong, Nathan Jones
Universal Studios Home Entertainment
Release Date: December 9, 2008

Jet Li was planning to stop making martial art movies after the filming of Fearless. He didn’t stick to that plan, but had he done so he would have gone out on an extremely high note.

Fearless tells the story of the life of Huo Yuanjia (played by Li), though it takes some major liberties for dramatic effect. In real life, Huo had many children and grandchildren, not a single daughter, and he was not the only person responsible for the forming of the Chin Woo Athletic Association. Also, humorously, the film greatly embellishes the facts around the fight between Huo and a boxer named O’Brien (Nathan Jones). In reality, there was never any fight, O’Brien simply left town after a dispute over the rules of the match. I don’t imagine that would make a great sequence in a martial art film though, so it’s safe to say the film was “inspired by” Huo’s life rather than a factual account of it.

The Blu-Ray edition holds three versions of the film: theatrical, unrated, and director’s cut. I can count on one hand the number of director’s cuts that are significantly different from the original film. Fearless is one of those films and the director’s cut is a significant improvement over the theatrical version. Running 40 minutes (yes, you read that correctly, 40 minutes) longer that original version, director Ronny Yu found a lot more story to tell, with none of it seeming gratuitous.

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