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 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Thursday, September 18, 2014 - Edition No 915 
Reckoning

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FEARLESS: DVD

SYNOPSIS:
The story of Chinese Martial Arts Master Huo Yuanjia (Jet Li), founder and spiritual guru of the Jin Wu Sports Federation. But before he finds his way, Huo (1869-1910), begins his adult life as a brilliant and brutally competitive fighter, who operates on pride and ego. After he kills an opponent and faces personal tragedy, he lives in a remote village working in rice paddies for some years, before returning home and forever defining himself at a martial arts tournament for the honor of his country and the true spirit of martial arts.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
This biopic of martial arts legend Huo Yuanjia set at the turn of the previous century in Shanghai is rich with a story that is at once a moral lesson and a martial arts showcase. This is an unhappy combo, as it turns out, and the film plays stilted and preachy. Stilted in the acting department and preachy in dialogue. There is too much earnest redemption material to deal with, so it is of course wonderfully ironic that the fight choreography is brilliant (thanks to good old Yuen Woo-ping).

Jet Li is a formidable talent and has plenty of charisma, but it's the rest of the cast (or most of them) whose performances are stilted. Nevertheless, the film hits all the plot points well enough, and there is no shortage of martial arts action in a variety of extended contest scenes.

The story is bookended with Huo's last fight in 1910, with the rest of the film taken up by his life in flashback, starting from his childhood, watching his martial artist father practice and drawing inspiration from him. But the young Huo doesn't quite catch on to the most important aspects of his father's principles, and has to learn them the hard way. The message is peace and balance and spiritual harmony, all set against the backdrop of a China emerging from the shadows and the Chinese trying to shrug off the demeaning attitudes of Westerners towards them.

The film won the Urban Cinefile Audience Award at the 2006 Sydney Film Festival (Best Feature - Sidebar Program).

Published December 14, 2006



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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 0
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 1

FEARLESS: DVD (M)
(Hong Kong/US, 2006)

Huo Yuan Jia

CAST: Jet Li, Shido Nakamura, Nathan Jones, Collin Chou, Qijing Bao, Betty Sun, Masato Harada, Mike Leeder,

PRODUCER: William Kong

DIRECTOR: Ronny Yu

SCRIPT: Chris Chow

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Hang-Sang Poon

EDITOR: Virginia Katz, Richard Learoyd

MUSIC: Shigeru Umebayashi

OTHER: Yuen Woo-ping (fight choreography)

RUNNING TIME: 104 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: UIP

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: August 24, 2006

PRESENTATION: Widescreen

SPECIAL FEATURES: None

DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Universal

DVD RELEASE: December 13, 2006







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