Bullet Points: Fearless
As Wrestlemania Week nears an end, I thought it might be nice to take a look at a lesser known man who stepped inside the squared circle over ten years ago. He was a brute of a man and as fast as he appeared and rose to the top, so was his descent into the “former Superstars” page of the WWE.com. He has however had a lengthy career in film and even thought I couldn’t get my hands on his film Muay Thai Giant, watching Jet Li battle Nathan Jones was truly fun.
The Gist: Fearless is the story of Wushu Master Huo Yuanjia during the latter part of the Qing Dynasty. Yuanjia would become a national hero as he fought against the foreigners to earn prestige for his nation.
The Cast: Jet Li completes the trilogy of Qing Dynasty heroes as he plays Hua Yuanjia and to be honest I didn’t find him to be much different than when he played Wong Fei Hung. Both of them were great teachers of the martial arts and both ended up being national heroes. Former WWE Superstar Nathan Jones, a hulking 6’10” bald guy played American boxer Hercules O’Brien. In real life O’Brien was actually Irish and there isn’t much evidence to suggest that they actually did fight. Some reports were that Hua accepted O’Brien’s challenge and he tucked tail and ran. Either way, Hua didn’t take shit from anyone. Shido Nakamura plays the Japanese fighter known as Anno Tanaka, who faces off against Hua in the finale. Surprisingly, this movie portrays him as a noble fighter and not like most Chinese movies where the Japanese are the worst of the worst.
Jones turns Li into a human carousel. WHEEEEEE!
The Villain: I don’t really see why these foreign A-holes were so intent on beating Yuanjia. I suppose that the guy responsible for the finale could be considered “bad” but the real struggle for the character is within Hua Yuanjia himself. He battles with acceptance from his father, his own maturation as a man, drinking too much wine, his horrible spending habits, and finally his absolute determination to be the best Wushu practitioner in his province. It’s only when he loses his family that he truly understands what’s important and returns to a life filled with sacrifice, duty, and honor. Oh yeah, a bunch of foreign guys want him humiliated and are willing to poison him to do so.
Even though I didn’t see Tanaka as a villain, his contribution to the finale was enough for me to include his picture. Sorry bro.
The Action: The fight scenes are what drives the film for me. The characters are all kind of “throw away characters” and none of them really made much of an impression but the action is undeniably awesome. The movie opens with Hua beating the tar out of a white boxer dude, then he totally jobs out a guy with a spear, before finally carving up some fencing guys shirt and making look like a real jabroni. We get flashbacked to Hua as a kid and then follow him for a bit as he kicks the hell out of several townies before getting wasted on rice wine and smashing up the bar like Axl Rose. At one point Hua and another fellow duke it out on top of a giant four-story wooden tower that inexplicably sits in the town square. Why is that monstrosity there in the first place? To be fought on like children playing “king of the mountain”, of course!
Hua fights boxers, fencers, karate masters, and these two blokes who are apparently doing the Little Rascals gimmick but without the trench coat.
Take it Home:
- That’s a big dude: Nathan Jones was too big for the beds in the Chinese hotels so he had to slide three beds together to get comfortable.
- Added for dramatic effect: Hua suffered from jaundice and tuberculosis in real life and some of the medication he had been taking may have led to his death.
- Director: Ronny Yu also directed Bride of Chucky and Freddy vs. Jason. What I’m saying is that Fearless is far and away Ronny Yu’s best movie.