Fearless (15)

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The Independent Culture

In theory, Fearless is a biopic of Huo Yuanjia, the Chinese martial arts champion who founded the Jingwu Sports Federation in 1910, but I wouldn't rely on it for strict biographical accuracy, not unless you believe that Yuanjia took on the four best pugilists in the world while coughing up a cup of poisoned tea.

In between all the punch-ups, there's a tale of a conceited streetfighter who finds peace by working in the paddy fields of a mountain village, and then returns to Shanghai to snatch back national pride from the foreign fat cats who have muscled in on China. But at bottom, Yuanjia's life story is being used to give the film's star, Jet Li, some picturesque historic locations in which he can break his opponents' arms. Fearless is an uneasy compromise between solemn period drama and WWF rumble.