has an average rating of 7.6 on IMDb
1080p in AVC MPEG-4 on a 50gb disc
Mandarin DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio
are missing some HD-DVD ports
– 101 minutes, 104 minutes & 141 minutes (DC)
Overall Verdict – Certainly Worth A Look
— Review by: Brendan Surpless —
The Movie Itself is directed by Ronny Yu. “Jet Li’s Fearless” takes place just after the turn of the 20th century. Huo’s father is challenged and beaten by the leader of the Zhao Clan leading to sheer embarrassment for everyone involved. Soon Huo Yuanija, his son, suffers a similar fate. Only Huo swears to never let a beating like this occur again. Huo wants nothing more in the world than for his father to teach him the way of the wushu, which is the way of fighting. The problem is that Huo doesn’t tend to put his heart in the right places. He hates studying his medicine and doing his calligraphy leaving his mother to tell him that wushu is not all about winning, but rather about patience and self-discipline. The film flashes forward a few years reveling to us that Huo is grown with a daughter. His mother insists he be married once more but getting the Huo Clan’s respect and power back is far too important for him to ever consider marriage. Being the champion of Tianjin is the single most important aspect of Huo’s life. Huo eventually defeats his childhood enemy gaining not only respect for himself and his family but also the entire city. Master Yuanjia is back and here to stay. Master Huo soon develops an intense following as nearly every citizen begs to either be taught Wushu or begs to join him.
Despite an impressive victory tally (38 consecutive victories), Master Huo decides to fight the great Master Chin. Chin is a foe equally feared and respected around the city after he attacks one of Huo’s students. Huo’s best friend tells Huo that he has no chance of winning. The fighting sequence between these two is simply amazing. The rest, which comes as no surprise as it was revealed on the back of the case, sees Huo fight some of the best and ferocious fighters around the world.
The single greatest strength of the film, besides the interesting story, were the amazing choreographed fighting sequences by master Yuen Wo Ping (famous for “The Matrix” and “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon“). A scene of particular note occurs 27 minutes into the film where Huo, having defeated nearly every competitor, issues a challenge to anyone. In a scene of brilliance 20-30 men rush the stage. This subtle scene was choreographed perfectly as Huo single-handedly removes all his foes. I recently read that Li, because of his natural martial art strength and speed, has to be filmed at 300 fps (frames per second) simply because he’s so fast. Another big strength I found was that I loved watching Li’s journey throughout the film starting with his desire to fight, traveling through his ups and downs all while keeping his face up knowing that he has become an almost worshipped type figure to his followers. Li is a charismatic actor, one that always seems to bring a sense of style and power to his roles. He doesn’t bring in the biggest amount of bank but his films aren’t about making money. Instead they’re more about the depth of the story presented.
Speaking of the story even though this type of plot has been done before and while “Jet Li’s Fearless” does nothing to advance the genre, I still found the presented story great, the visuals amazing, and the choreographed fights breath-taking. It’s rumored that this film was Li’s bow out of the genre. While this is a sad note Li should be proud to know that he has punched, slapped and pounded his way out in style.
Video Quality on this release is in full 1080p using the AVC MPEG-4 codec on a BD-50 (50 gigabyte Blu-ray Disc). “Jet Li’s Fearless” has a truly eye-popping transfer. And it’s not from all the slow motion fighting, but rather from the strong visuals. Colors were strong, vibrant and clear. I especially enjoyed how powerful the colors seemed. The lush greens of the countryside, the dark darks of the night and the bright whites of the fighter’s uniforms were all great. Detail was fine, but I expected a bit more here. Scenes of strength (like the opening sequences), were immediately followed by scenes of weakness (particularly the courtyard sequence with young Huo). Grain was present in some of the interior shots, but was kept to a minimum. I did also notice a bit of video noise around the 55 minute mark during some of the muddled, dark countryside scenes. Had it not been for the strong visuals, Jet Li’s Fearless would have had a rather mediocre transfer. The various locales really helped this transfer. Another solid effort, despite a few negatives, here Universal earning a “4 Star Rating.
Audio Quality on this release is presented in Mandarin DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio Surround. Dialogue was clean and clear throughout. I loved that Director Ronny Yu included the native Manderin audio track. As per the typical foreign film, I decided to watch the film in its’ native Manderin. Dynamic Range was nearly perfect as little discrete effects like thunder booming, people cheering, and the wind blowing enveloped the room. Surround usage was excellent obviously sounding the best during the fighting sequences. A scene of possible demo may be the fight between Chin and Huo. Swords clash and break, wood smashes, and bodies fly as these two great warriors fighting creates such an atmosphere that it felt like I was on the set with the actors. Bass was great in an accompanying manner as it helped to capture all the raw, gritty natures of Huo fighting various warriors. Something to note is that some viewers may be turned off by the constant sound of bones crunching and blows landing. Myself wouldn’t have it any other way. A truly effective audio presentation earning a “4.5 Star Rating“.
Bonus Materials are ALMOST completely missing here. Despite this being on a BD-50, Universal has chosen not to include any of the Deleted Scenes that were included on the previous HD-DVD release. The only thing included is an EPK (Electronic Press Kit) of sorts that serves as a basic “making of”. Video is in standard definition 480i MPEG-2 and audio in Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (@192kbps) for this featurette — listed below.
- “A Fearless Journey” (16:06) claims that “Fearless” was to be Jet Li‘s last wushu (martial arts) film. We all know that didn’t turn out to be true. This includes some interviews with Li discussing wushu and most importantly promoting the film. Fans of Jet Li will want to give this a watch but will want to IMDb him afterward and realize that he didn’t quit doing martial arts in motion pictures.
Blu-ray Disc packaging: