High-kicking midget Jet Li stars in the true story of Chinese martial arts legend Huo Yuan Jia, the founder and spiritual guru of the Jin Wu Sports Federation.

After watching his Dad die in combat, Huo vows to become the finest martial exponent the world has ever seen and, true to his word, remains undefeated for the next 30 years.

But as his success grows so does his arrogance and, when he recklessly kills a man in a drunken brawl, his mother and daughter are butchered in a revenge attack.

Devastated by the loss, Huo tries to commit suicide by tossing himself in a river, but is rescued by a blind peasant girl and taken to an idyllic rice-growing village in the remote countryside.

Our man then gives up the booze, grows his hair, and falls in love, before returning home to take part in the last battle of his distinguished career - a WWE-style four-way tournament with the world's greatest fighters.

Despite reportedly spending the last 10 years developing the character of Huo, “Fearless” is a disappointing finale to Li’s martial arts career (he will be focusing on non-combat roles from now on). Even the involvement of legendary choreographer Yuen Wo-Ping (“The Matrix”) fails to ignite the gravity-defying fight sequences which have a “seen-it-all-before” feel to them, and lack the humour of last year’s vastly superior “Ong-bak”.

The package isn't helped by a complete lack of extras on the disc.

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Blame for this must also go to director Ronny Yu, who continues in the same vein of form evident in his past classics “Freddy Vs Jason” and “Bride of Chucky”, placing the emphasis on witless fight scenes rather than the far more interesting story about Huo’s mid-life epiphany and rehabilitation.

For a film that extols the message of pacifism it seems strange that Yu displays such unbridled glee in bone-crunching carnage.

Rating: 15
Staring: Jet Li, Nathan Jones, Masato Harada, Shido Nakamura, Betty Sun, Dong Yong
Directed by: Ronny Yu
Extras: None

Sections TV