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Fearless (original title: 霍元甲) is a movie starring Jet Li, directed by Ronny Yu and released in 2006. It is a fictionalized biopic of famous martial arts master Huo Yuanjia (1868-1910).
Huo was the son of a wushu professor in Tianjin, but because of his poor health, he wasn't allowed to study martial arts himself. However, after seeing his father lose a fight against a dishonorable adversary, he decides to become a master in his own right in order to redeem the family name.
As years go by, Huo's fame rises, but so does his vanity. One day, he confronts Qin, the master of a rival school and, in the heat of combat, deals him a deadly blow. The latter's followers retaliate by killing Huo's mother and daughter. Stricken with grief, he wanders the countryside in a state of shock, and is taken in by a kindly old woman and her blind granddaughter.
Sharing their life and that of the simple country folk in their village, he nurses himself back to psychological health. In 1907, a more mature and humble man, he returns to Tianjin, and is appalled by the decay of Chinese society and the arrogance of foreigners. He restores his fame by winning a fight against an American wrestler, and with the financial backing of an old friend founds the Jingwu Association, a martial arts school in Shanghai.
The foreign-controlled Shanghai Chamber of Commerce challenges him to a fight in which he will have to defeat four national champions in a row. He easily defeats the three Western ones, and only the Japanese one turns out to almost be a match for his martial prowess. However, the Japanese diplomat who had co-organized the event poisons Huo's tea, and although the Japanese fighter gracefully admits defeat, Huo collapses and dies moments later.
Contains examples of:
- Alternative Foreign Theme Song: In the Japanese release, the theme song was changed from "Fearless" to "Crime" by HIGH and MIGHTY COLOR. This apparently upset many Japanese fans of the original song.
- Anti-Villain: Tanaka.
- Arcadia: The village folks live an idyllic existence made of wholesome agrarian work and caring togetherness.
- Arrogant Kung Fu Guy: Huo is one before he learns better.
- Audible Sharpness: When Huo fights Master Chin, their swords are very, very sharp, and therefore incredibly audible, even when they aren't moving...
- Bittersweet Ending
- Blood From the Mouth: You know Huo has dealt his rival a killing blow when the latter spits blood. Likewise, he starts coughing blood when the poison kicks in.
- Casualty in the Ring
- Good Colors, Evil Colors: Right before he lost his family, Yuanjia and his students wore all black. Later, he and the Jingwu Association members wore white tops.
- Completely Different Title: The original title is simply the hero's name.
- Contemplative Boss: Huo's long-estranged friend strikes the pose when turning down a request to lend him money. On a later encounter, their reconciliation is illustrated by his turning from the window to face him as Huo enters the room.
- Cool Sword: Master Qin's
- Crowning Moment of Heartwarming: At the very end, when Tanaka realizes that Yuanjia has been poisoned, he immediately stops fighting, declares Yuanjia the victor, and leads the crowd in cheering his name. Yuanjia dies a moment later, surrounded by the crowd while they shout his name as a victory cry. Doubles as a Crowning Moment of Awesome.
- Even MORE heartwarming than indicated. Realizing that Huo is not fit to fight, Tanaka tries (once again) to talk Huo out of fighting (earlier, it was due to Huo having to fight FOUR MASTERS in one night, which struck Tanaka as unfair). Huo finds an opening, even in his weakened state, and strikes with the same attack that he used to kill Qin. The One Hit Kill move, that would easily win the match at the cost of Tanaka's life. In a moment similar to his father's loss at the beginning of the movie, Huo pulls back from completing the strike then collapses. But whereas his father's opponent had ignored this near-death experience and knocked Huo's dad out of the ring, Tanaka realizes what happened and honorably admits his defeat.
- Curb Stomp Battle: One time Huo fought in the rain, and he beat the challenger without moving from his spot while holding an umbrella.
- Death Glare: The look on Tanaka's face is terrifying after the corrupt Japanese businessman declares he "is not Japanese" for conceding the fight.
- Doomed Moral Victor
- Dramatic Thunder: During Huo's Duel to the Death with Qin.
- Go-Karting with Bowser: Tanaka visits Yuanjia before the match, and they have tea and enjoy a friendly conversation about martial arts (and tea).
- How We Got Here: The story begins with the final fight, then goes back to Huo's childhood.
- Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: If it were not for Huo catching him, this would have nearly happened to the U.S. Wrestler.
- I Will Wait for You: Yueci.
- Motivational Lie: In an inversion of a Tactful Translation, the wrestler's Chinese manager tells the wrestler that Huo's polite speech that condemns death matches was a Badass Boast by Huo saying that he was going to beat the wrestler up. The wrestler is fired up after hearing that.
- Old Retainer: Huo's personal servant.
- Sword Sparks: During the duel with Qin.
- Tear Jerker: "I did not win! Huo! Yuan! Jia!
- Ten-Minute Retirement: Huo's time in the village. Actually, he's there for a few years, but that's the idea.
- Wire Fu: There is some, though not nearly as much as in Wuxia films.
- What the Fu Are You Doing?: When Tanaka, the Japanese fighter, swipes Huo's three-section staff during their fight (losing his katana to Huo in the process), both men switch fighting styles. Nearly averted at first, with Tanaka dual-wielding the outer sections competently. But all bets are off once Tanaka tries to do a fancy around-the-back spin move, and whacks himself in the head. Huo graciously returns Tanaka's sword, and Tanaka does likewise with Huo's staff.
- World of Ham: Everything is dramatic. Westerners are especially shouty.
- You Can Barely Stand: Huo decides to carry on with the fight even though he's dying from poisoning.