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Jet Li’s Fearless

Year: 2006
Studio: Beijing Film Studio
Director: Ronny Yu
Producer: Ronny Yu/Jet Li
Cast: Jet Li
Jet Li's final martial arts epic, as the tagline screams. Twenty bucks says that in five years, after many attempts at serious thesping and commercial failures on the back of them, Jet has to choose between another martial arts epic and the dole queue.

Just like Sharon Stone weathered some bombs before returning for Basic Instinct 2 and Arnie did the same before reprising his role in Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, they all come back to what they know best and the roles that made them famous when their stars are fading.

And like Jet Li's other martial arts epics, there's a lot of epic martial artistry and a minimum of acting. Jet plays a fighter who's grown up with a determined streak to be the best in China. The colonial powers are throwing their weight around in early 20th century Shanghai, and they pit their best fighters against the one-man superhero.

During the fight we go back in time and see the storyline that bought him to where he is; the frivolity of forgetting what's important in the name of his fame and fortune, the guilt at losing his family to assassins, the petty squabbles of his local people and his wandering the wilderness finding himself.

The cinematography and choreography are worthy of Yimou Zhang and Yuen Wo Ping (who actually did the fight scenes), and directed by schlock director Ronny Yu (Freddy vs Jason, Formula 51) that's quite an achievement.

What lets it all down is Li himself when he speaks. Too fast and too eager, he belongs in a comedy, his shtick too Jackie Chan where the movie needed Akira Kurosawa.

As you'd expect though, it has blinding, blistering fight scenes, and that's what you're there for.

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