With dozens of features under his black belt, action star Jet Li is ready to call it quits from martial arts movies, stating that his latest film, Jet Li's Fearless (Focus), will be his last in the genre which made him famous. He calls it his most personal film to date, to which one might add — along with 2002's Hero — his finest.
In it, Li not only gets the opportunity to once again display his acrobatic prowess, but shows he can act as well.
Inspired by the life of Chinese cultural hero, Huo Yuanjia, the fictionalized drama — set at the turn of the 20th century — tells the tale of an arrogant martial artist (Li) whose pursuit of street-fighting fame ends in tragedy, prompting a spiritual awakening. He gives up brawling and founds an athletic organization to promote self-improvement and national pride, which, with China under foreign occupation, was at an all-time low.
Hoping to promote sportsmanship and silence the voices deriding China as “the weak man of the East,” he agrees to a match against three European bruisers and a Japanese champion organized by shady foreign businessmen.
And while that may sound like the film sends a mixed message about fighting, the ending unequivocally affirms that true strength lies in one's heart and that the ultimate test is not defeating others but self-mastery.
Director Ronny Yu's film delivers balletic fight choreography, elegant visuals and a solid story, buttressed by Li's poignant performance and a redemptive theme about the futility of violence and revenge.
The film contains much stylized action violence and an instance of mildly crude language. The USCCB Office for Film & Broadcasting classification is A-III — adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13 — parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.
(This review appears courtesy of US Conference of Catholic Bishop's Office for Film and Broadcasting.)