2006’s Fearless, a film produced and starring Jet Li, further propelled the legendary actor into the minds of movie goers around the world. The film received a fair reception in the States, bringing in just under $25 million—not bad for a foreign film. In addition, the film has seen countless home video releases, including several DVD and one HD-DVD release, and with the continued release of the film, it appears the that the appeal of this film has yet to die down. Now with a Blu-ray release set to arrive on store shelves just in time for the holiday season, no doubt fans of the film will be scrambling to pick it up.
International superstar Jet Li (The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor) delivers ultimate action as never before in the Director’s Cut of his final martial arts epic with over 35 minutes of additional footage! Inspired by the true story of a real-life hero, Jet Li stars as a renowned martial arts champion who must come face-to-face with the most ferocious fighters in the world as part of a difficult path to redemption. Featuring three version of the film (Director’s Cut, Unrated Version and Theatrical Version), Jet Li’s Fearless is an edge-of-your-sea masterpiece of pride, vengeance, and self discovery!
The only thing I really remember about this film when its theatrical run was launched was that it was touted as Li’s “final” film, although he later appeared in quite a few American films, including the aforementioned Mummy film as well as staring opposite Jason Statham in War. Neither were great examples of Li’s commanding screen presence, but it was nice to see his audience widen with each new film. So while I’d seen his American works, I sadly never laid eyes on the films that made him famous and I like to think that Fearless is a fair place to start, even if it isn’t considered his best.
More than anything the film is a fantastic example of Li’s talents, both in acting and in martial arts. While the fight sequences here are some of the best I’ve ever seen (aided largely due to the fact that there is very little CGI or wire work done in the series, making everything in the film a lot more real and powerful), it’s also the acting in this film that is miles above what I’d come to expect from Li. He wasn’t a bad actor, per say, in the films I saw him in previously but they were also two films I found to be very hard to enjoy due to their corny and unintentionally comedic results. Here, the role that Li plays, is deeply influenced by his own life and as a result the passion and feeling that Li puts into the role is simply something you don’t see very much.
Quite frankly the story and martial arts in this film simply felt more real than anything else I’d ever seen from a martial arts film. The way the film started in the present and flashed back through the life of Huo Yuanjia made for some incredibly enthralling cinema and I was greatly impressed by how visceral everything was about the film. Everything from the characters to the visuals felt grounded in reality to me and that alone kept me wanting to watch the film. I guess I expected something a bit more fantastical than what I was given and from that area alone I was much more interested in the film than I would have been normally.
If you’re a fan of martial arts films or of Jet Li, it goes without saying you should check this out. While I don’t know if it is the best of his career, I’ve no doubt it is likely the most fleshed out and emotionally acted. From the research I did on the film after viewing it, it simply seemed to be a very personally resonating film for Li, which makes it all the more believable for the audience viewing it. Of course those wanting action will not be disappointed either—some of the fights in this film are simply breathtaking in their complexity and is truly something to behold. Recommended.
Jet Li’s Fearless arrives on Blu-ray in a standard Elite Blu case with a insert advertising other Universal titles. Disc art matches the front cover and the jacket itself is printed on foil reflective paper. The menu system starts out with an option for the three various cuts of the film and from there we’re introduced to the usual Universal “blade” setup.
Video for this film arrives in a VC-1 encoded transfer across all three versions and it is quite the visual experience. Detail is sharp and colors, often a golden hue, look fantastic and there’s little to complain about with this transfer. The previous HD-DVD release was thought to be reference material worthy and I’m inclined to think the same for this Blu-ray transfer. Across the board, all three versions of the film sport immaculate transfers and look nothing short of stunning. The accompanying Mandarin DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix sounds fantastic as well, with great channel separation and a healthy bass level accompanying each of the intense sequences of the film. Also included are English and French DTS 5.1 tracks on the unrated and theatrical versions only. Subtitles are available in English SDH, Spanish and French.
Based on the rear cover you’d be lead to believe that are no extras to view for this release, especially since three versions of the film are included (the previous HD-DVD/DVD Combo release featured only the director’s cut and theatrical editions). Although the deleted scene from the HD-DVD release is missing (and may just be what the “unrated” edition of this film is, although why they included a whole other cut of the film I don’t know), the A Fearless Journey (16:06) featurette is intact and in standard definition. It’s not much, but it’s a fair enough extra and worth checking out if you enjoyed the film.
Overall the release isn’t packed and a commentary by Li would’ve been a welcome addition to this release (especially since it’s about the third or fourth time Universal has released it in the States), but as is this is a solid pick-up for those who don’t already own the HD-DVD edition or what to upgrade to a high-definition edition of the film. It’s certainly a fantastic looking film and it is equally as moving as it is engaging to watch, so this release comes easily Recommended.
Jet Li’s Fearless – Director’s Cut arrives on Blu-ray on December 9th.