Screened as part of NZIFF 2006
Fearless is being touted as Jet Li’s last foray into martial arts, but fans needn’t worry about the enduring 42-year old kung fu icon limping to the finish line: it’s easily his most ballsy and brutal martial arts flick since his peak Hong Kong period. Imagine the uncompromisingly vicious prowess of Fist of Legend married with the lavishly mounted, epic grandeur of Once Upon a Time in China, and you’ve got Fearless. In his most emotionally resonant performance yet, Li plays turn-of-the-century folk hero Huo Yuanjia, a kung fu master who sought to enforce his title as the greatest fighter in the land, only to succumb to the consequences of his arrogance. Gracefully directed by Ronny Yu (Bride with White Hair), on the rebound from helming mediocre American horror franchises, the film doesn’t skimp on bone-snapping Yuen Wo-ping-choreographed fights: there’s an astonishing restaurant set-demolishing centrepiece that’ll please fans who think Jackie’s much too slow these days and simply can’t wait for the next Tony Jaa bash-fest.