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Jet Li's Fearless is the martial arts master"s last hurrah, chockfull of the wushu fighting he does so well. If you"re going to retire from the biz, might as well do it with some style


Based on a true story, Jet Li plays Huo Yuanjia, the legendary Chinese martial arts master who, at the turn of the 20th century, became the most famous fighter in all of China. As a young man, Huo is unbeatable but pride gets in the way, and when an ill-advised fight goes horribly wrong, Huo"s life comes crashing down. This sends Huo on a torturous journey of self-discovery, in which he learns the true nature of sportsmanship. He returns to Tianjin, restores his family"s name, and--with his evolving, graceful Mizong (Missing) Fist method of fighting--Huo forms the progressive Jingwu Sports Federation. Then comes the big event. Huo is asked to fight in a tournament in which he must do battle against four powerful international fighters. He accepts and the outcome is what legends are made of.


If Jet Li decides to just do the acting thing from now on, he"s got a good shot at success. He has always been the better actor of his martial arts contemporaries—ice-cold as the villain in Lethal Weapon 4, convincingly romantic in Romeo Must Die and displaying some real chops in Hero. Even as Huo, Jet shows ranges, going from a man pumped full of arrogance and pride, who neglects his family, to a quiet warrior, who"s, well, fearless. But no one really believes Jet Li is going to stop making wushu martial arts movies, do they? He just too good at it.


Still, you can"t blame Jet Li for wanting to quit. Those fight sequences do look like they hurt—a lot—and as he gets older, it must be more difficult to bounce back. So, with Fearless , Jet gives his fans a real send off, calling this film his most personal because it expresses the martial arts beliefs and philosophies he"s learned over the last 30 years. Jet is also backed by a talented Chinese director, Ronny Yu (The Bride with White Hair), who frames his star in one daring fight sequence after another. The narrative and themes seems familiar and staid, but the fact it"s based on a real person gives it some credibility. Let"s just say, Fearless is one of the more inspiring martial arts movies you"ll ever see.

Bottom Line rated this film 3 stars.