Feature

Jet Li’s Fearless

A 19th-century martial arts master fights to defend China’s honor.

'œIn a way, martial arts movies are like musicals,' said Michael Wilmington in the Chicago Tribune. Fans will forgive a thin plot and hammy acting if you blow them away with big production numbers. Fortunately, Fearless has all three. Jet Li floats across the screen with the ease of Gene Kelly, and his fights are choreographed by Yuen Wo Ping, the 'œBob Fosse of kung fu movies' responsible for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Like that film, Fearless deserves a wide audience, said Stephanie Zacharek in Salon.com. This inspiring fable, based on legendary 19th-century martial artist Huo Yuanjia, is 'œone of the most beautifully made pictures of the year.' Director Ronny Yu not only creates lovely historical set pieces but also gives the entire far-fetched tale of national pride upheld a charming simplicity. At times, Fearless seems like a great silent movie, and Li's quietly heroic turn as Huo 'œputs much of what's lauded as great contemporary acting to shame.' But let's be honest, said Bob Longino in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. People don't come to kung fu movies for Oscar-caliber performances. Fearless, which Li says will be his last martial arts epic, has fewer fights than most. When the fists aren't flying, the film 'œis about as pretty and lifeless as Memoirs of a Geisha.'

Rating: PG-13

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