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ALTHOUGH it may seem like just another action-packed let Li martial arts period flick, Fearless seems more significant than even his ground-breaking Once upon a Time in China movies. This is not because it may be the last time we see Li in that trademark period costume martial arts role, but because it is a more mature movie than his previous ones. While the role of Huo Yuanjia, founder of the martial arts school Jing Wu Men, may seem like yet another rehash of his Wong Fei Hong and Fong Sai Yuk roles, he is in his element here, especially when it comes to the fight sequences.

Using minimal wirework, the fight scenes awesomely choreographed by Yuen Wo Ping, bring out the best of Li's martial arts skills. Be warned that there are some brutal scenes of bones being broken.

The plot may be relatively predictable - weak child grows up to become arrogant kung fu master, who then experiences heart-breaking tragedy that drives him into exile, and leads to him achieving enlightenment in a farming village before returning home to become an honourable kung fu legend. But it is very much worth a watch mostly because it manages to deliver its message of honour, respect and patriotism in a very butt-kicking kind of way.

It may not be perfect, but all things considered, Fearless manages to bring Li's long filmography of martial arts movies to a fitting and rousing end.

flick   a movie
rehash   To bring forth again in another form without significant alteration
rousing   making people feel excited
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