Jet Li kicks some serious butt...in the name of peace. In his "final martial arts epic" (say it ain't so!), Li portrays legendary fighter Huo Yuanjia, who rose to fame in turn-of-the-century China. Bullied as a kid, he vows never to be defeated again, and after years of training (and turning into Jet Li), he becomes the Champion of Tianjin, his hometown.
As his popularity grows, so does his pride. And then, there goeth the fall: An ill-advised, vengeance-fueled fight leads to tragedy, and Li stumbles into the countryside, consumed with grief and shame. He recuperates in an idyllic village, befriends a lovely blind woman and, of course, learns lessons before returning to civilization to battle "with honor and civility" and to teach others to do the same.
Yeah, the story is pretty standard. But no fear--Fearless features cleverly choreographed fights and amazing showmanship from Li (we should all be so agile at age 42), as well as slick lensing and a sumptuous score by House of Flying Daggers composer Shigeru Umebayashi.
Reportedly, a whopping 40 minutes were cut from the film, right before its release (so there's a DVD version to look for later). This explains some of the condensed storytelling, but fortunately, Fearless never feels gouged and still provides an exhilarating experience for Jet Li fans--and a graceful exiting bow for the master.