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Jet Li's Fearless (Huo Yuan Jia) (Legend of a Fighter) (2006)

tomatometer

73

Average Rating: 6.7/10
Reviews Counted: 109
Fresh: 80 | Rotten: 29

Fearless is a brilliantly choreographed, beautifully filmed endcap to Li's quarter decade of epic martial arts glory.

59

Average Rating: 6.3/10
Critic Reviews: 32
Fresh: 19 | Rotten: 13

Fearless is a brilliantly choreographed, beautifully filmed endcap to Li's quarter decade of epic martial arts glory.

audience

86

liked it
Average Rating: 3.8/5
User Ratings: 141,324

My Rating

Movie Info

Fearless opens in Shanghai, China, circa 1910, when wushu master Huo Yuanjia (martial arts superstar Jet Li) prepares to battle one Japanese opponent, Tanaka (Shidou Nakamura), and three American opponents (Anthony de Longis, Jean-Claude Leuyer, and Brandon Rhea) in a massive tournament. The picture then cuts back to Huo's boyhood in the city of Tianjin, in North China, circa 1880, when his father forbids him from engaging in martial-arts training. He must therefore slip off and train covertly.

Dec 19, 2006

$24.6M

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All Critics (114) | Top Critics (34) | Fresh (80) | Rotten (29) | DVD (27)

I think this is a terrific film.

September 25, 2006 Full Review Source: Ebert & Roeper
Ebert & Roeper
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It takes time for the film to bounce back to the heights of its opening scene, but about midway it does.

September 23, 2006 Full Review Source: Dallas Morning News
Dallas Morning News
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Every so often there is a hand-to-hand fight scene to cut the boredom -- the best is set atop a precipitously high wooden tower in a village square -- but even these don't set themselves apart from anything we've seen before.

September 23, 2006 Full Review Source: Entertainment Weekly
Entertainment Weekly
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Jet Li movies are still pretty cool, but they appear to be heading in an unfortunate direction.

September 22, 2006 Full Review Source: San Francisco Chronicle
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It boils down to a simple but elegantly told morality tale with beautiful sets and scenery and plenty of bracing action.

September 22, 2006 Full Review Source: Seattle Times
Seattle Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A movie that condemns the tendency of global culture to intrude everywhere while embracing the very things that kick multiplex doors down around the world.

September 22, 2006 Full Review Source: Toronto Star
Toronto Star
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Part bio-pic, part wuxia, Fearless melds the best of both genres and in the process makes something greater than the sum of its parts, commenting both on its genre and human nature in general, both as they are now and what they could aspire to be.

March 29, 2011 Full Review Source: ComingSoon.net
ComingSoon.net

Jet Li's final fight; teens OK.

January 2, 2011 Full Review Source: Common Sense Media
Common Sense Media

A honorable send-off

August 30, 2009 Full Review Source: CinePassion
CinePassion

Every action sequence is imaginatively mounted, from a dizzying fight on a high tower, to the sight of Li taking on a wrestler twice his size...

July 30, 2008 Full Review Source: Film4

Teamed up with veteran director Ronny Yu and renowned choreographer Yuen Wo Ping, Mr. Li does some of his best work here.

July 14, 2007 Full Review Source: Big Picture Big Sound
Big Picture Big Sound

More of a message movie designed for mainland China than a karate chopsocky for consumption in the West where a martial arts movie has to be about butt-kicking to generate any traction.

April 27, 2007 Full Review Source: EURWeb
EURWeb

Not so much a message film as it is a martial-arts epic with a philosophical backdrop. And it is utterly sincere without being treacly or preachy.

March 1, 2007 Full Review Source: Film Journal International
Film Journal International

Fracassa como exemplar de artes marciais e, o que é ainda pior, como homenagem a um homem que inspirou grandes atletas e atores (incluindo o protagonista desta produção).

February 16, 2007
Cinema em Cena

As energetically corporeal as it is touchingly spiritual.

January 3, 2007 Full Review Source: Flick Filosopher
Flick Filosopher

Li carries the load on his shifty shoulders in a nostalgic wushu period piece that is philosophically solemn yet kinetically impish in its reflective spirit.

October 23, 2006 Full Review Source: Movie Eye
Movie Eye

Fearless has some of the best choreography I've seen in years, and Li handles the task with his usual finesse.

October 17, 2006 Full Review Source: Film Threat
Film Threat

The film is about more than complex stunts and breathtaking acrobatics. It's about a man who learns the pitfalls of pride and becomes a national hero in the process. And it's a good time at the movies.

October 9, 2006 Full Review Source: Reno Gazette-Journal

It's a treat for fans of historical martial arts epics and especially for fans of Jet Li, who won't be the ones to tell the star if he's starting to show his age.

October 9, 2006 Full Review
Denton Record Chronicle (TX)

If Li must leave his signature genre, better this entertaining bit of history than the wall-to-wall boredom of Hero.

October 7, 2006 Full Review
Northwest Herald (Crystal Lake, IL)

The martial arts master's final epic is great when the fists and feet are flying.

October 4, 2006 Full Review Source: ReelzChannel.com

Do you really mean it, Jet Li?

October 3, 2006 Full Review
Quad City Times (Davenport, IA)

No matter how you slice it, Fearless is Li in his prime.

September 30, 2006 Full Review Source: Austin Chronicle
Austin Chronicle

"Fearless" not only talks the talk, it walks the walk -- or side snap-kicks the side snap-kick, if you want.

September 29, 2006 Full Review
Capital Times (Madison, WI)

Ultimately a picture preaching about the cost of violence that shies away from real, visceral consequence.

September 28, 2006 Full Review Source: Film Freak Central
Film Freak Central

... Fearless is a richly layered tale of redemption

September 28, 2006 Full Review
Atlantic City Weekly

Audience Reviews for Jet Li's Fearless (Huo Yuan Jia) (Legend of a Fighter)

Fearless is based on the life of Huo Yuanjia, a martial artist who became the figurehead of Chinese national pride at the turn of the century. The format is all very familiar; a famous fighter becomes drunk on his own success until his arrogance results in tragedy leading to his downfall. He learns what is important in life and overcomes adversity to fight a final battle to restore the pride of his country. Yes, Rocky, The Karate Kid and a hundred others have followed this formula, but the fact that this is in fact based on a true story gives it much greater credibility. I would also have to say that, although I may be biased, the way the Chinese approach the subject matter is something akin to comparing a piece of artful, moving poetry to Hollywood's ham-fisted and tacky greetings card rhyme. Full of the kind of beautiful imagery you'd expect from a nouveau martial arts film and typical of the kind of superb action sequences you'd expect from Jet Li and Yuen Wo Ping (fight choreographer for The Matrix amongst others) it's yet another example of Asian cinema at it's finest.
Addendum: I would have to recommend the Blu Ray edition of this film as not only does it look fantastic, but the director's cut restores 40 minutes of material cut from the centre section which although virtually action free, forms the heart and soul of the story.
August 6, 2013
garyX
xGary Xx

Super Reviewer

Jet Li makes an exceptional performance in his final martial arts epic. Fearless is captured elegantly and is an emotional as well as action-packed picture. The film definitely puts a glorious conclusion to Jet Li's martial arts classics. 4/5
December 7, 2012
Eugene Bernabe

Super Reviewer

Exquisitely lavish is a good way to describe this Jet Li film, I thought this was some kind of silly action flick or another historical ancient Chinese dynasty film with more semi bald Chinese blokes mixed with a fantasy element, but boy was I wrong. Turns out this is actually a biopic of a famous martial artist by the name of Huo Yuanjia as we follow his life of training in the art of Wushu.

I was slightly dubious as I started to watch this as many Eastern martial arts films tend to be very over the top with their fight sequences and use too much mystical hocus pocus over realism. To my joy this film is very down to earth and a very solid steady epic which clearly has had allot of time and effort put into it.
The first thing that hits you is the attention to detail on everything, the sets and costumes look beautiful down to the last tiny prop, all the cast look authentic for the era and the acting is most definitely top dollar. The story is slowish but never dull as you are slowly fed much Eastern wisdom and philosophy that really is a joy to hear. Li's soft calm voice is perfect with this in his role as he portrays the arrogant fighter in his prime, a man coming to terms with the beauty of life, kindness and honour and finally a wise compassionate mentor...but never at any point is Li an unlikeable person.

As for the fighting...the real crux of the matter for many, its pretty darn fine basically, what you have here is some stunning fast fluid and realistic fights displaying Wushu in its finest form from Li. I was so pleased not to see lots of obvious wire work or cgi nonsense to interfere, that's not to say there is just a small amount of wire work to add a small element of magic but it just about works without ruining your suspension of disbelief.
There is a strong 'MMA' undercurrent in this film also of course, the whole point was how Yuanjia challenged foreign fighters from all over the world and different disciplines to demonstrate and prove Wushu. This entails fights against boxers, lancers, kickboxers, fencers etc... and is possibly the first example of 'MMA', I have no clue whether it was or not but it certainly seems so which is interesting.

I have to give much kudos to this film and its direction from Yu, I was pretty surprised this came from Yu seeing as his previous films don't come close to this type of epic offering. I also must admit to not being a Jet Li fan and find many of his films too similar plus he really looks quite mean facially if you ask me hehe got evil eyes, never the less this film is damn high quality with superb work in every area making it a visual treat with stoic performances.
April 29, 2012
phubbs1

Super Reviewer

There's a lot of martial arts movies that come our way -- they could have dazzling fight sequences, long takes of great choreography, or even poor action sequences, but almost all of them have one thing in common: poor storytelling (except Ip Man 1 & 2). "Fearless" doesn't exactly manage to completely trump the martial arts epidemic, but it's better than most, coupled with great choreography that rivals with the few greats. The story is entertaining, not much more beyond that. Near the end, it begins to hit the cheesiness line. However, the action sequences has incredible camerawork and editing that makes it incredibly gripping. You'll have a great time with "Fearless".
March 10, 2012
Albert Kim

Super Reviewer

    1. Huo's mother: Fear and respect are not the same.
    – Submitted by Frances H (2 months ago)
    1. Huo Yuanjia: Competitions can help discover our weaknesses and lead to self discovery.
    – Submitted by Frances H (2 months ago)
    1. Huo Yuanjia: The tea does not judge itself. People judge the tea.
    – Submitted by Frances H (2 months ago)
    1. Huo Yuanjia: Revenge only brings more bloodshed.
    – Submitted by Frances H (2 months ago)
View all quotes (4)

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Foreign Titles

  • FEARLESS (DE)
  • Fearless (UK)
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