Fearless Ronny Yu

Fearless Ronny Yu
Jet Li’s ode to wushu is a great voyage of self-discovery, a sweeping historical epic and a fun martial arts film all rolled into a two-hour extravaganza. The film is based on the true story of Huo Yuanjia, a real figure in Chinese history who’s over the years become a legend, to the point where fact and fiction concerning his "actual life” have blended together a bit. Fearless isn’t necessarily concerned with recreating a factual account of his life so much as delving into why he’s such an important and symbolic figure — a good decision from Ronny Yu (The Bride with White Hair, Bride of Chucky) because it makes for a powerful, beautiful story instead of a dull epic. We see Huo Yuanjia’s growth, the development of his philosophy and the discoveries he makes during a period he spent in exile. There are three stages of his life represented distinctly here: first, the young, asthmatic boy who stubbornly teaches himself wushu and becomes a cocky young fighter whose pride leads to family tragedy. Second, the broken and devastated man who goes into exile to try to redeem himself; third, the hero returning to find his people in need, and getting the chance to give back. The fights are astonishing, deftly choreographed and beautifully executed by Jet Li and his co-stars. This double disc DVD marks the release of the director’s cut, which is half-an-hour longer and features Michelle Yeoh as a present-day wushu advocate talking in front of the Olympic committee. Her scenes bookend the film and were completely omitted from the theatrical version, as was a fight between Jet Li and a Thai boxer (Somluck Kamsing), included here. The double disc set also includes the original theatrical version, if any die-hards want to compare the two. A single deleted scene about Huo saving a young boy from a cruel punishment (why was this one scene deleted in the first place?) and a 16-minute "behind the scenes” featurette, which includes some interesting footage of Jet Li talking about his retirement from wushu films, round out the set. (Alliance)