PLEASE NOTE: Michael D's is currently in READ ONLY MODE. Anything submitted will simply not be written to the database.
Lots of stuff is still broken, but at least reviews can now be looked up and read.
PLEASE NOTE: Michael D's is currently in READ ONLY MODE. Anything submitted will simply not be written to the database.
Lots of stuff is still broken, but at least reviews can now be looked up and read.
Fearless (Huo Yuan Jia) (2006)

Fearless (Huo Yuan Jia) (2006)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 11-Dec-2006

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Main Menu Audio
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2006
Running Time 99:27
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (45:25) Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Ronny Yu

Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Jet Li
Shido Nakamura
Betty Sun
Yong Dong
Hee Ching Paw
Yun Qu
Nathan Jones
Brandon Rhea
Anthony De Longis
Jean Claude Leuyer
Case ?
RPI $39.95 Music Shigeru Umebayashi

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None Mandarin Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Catalan Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Jet Li has been a major martial arts movie star for many years in Asia and across the globe in movies such as the Once Upon a Time in China trilogy, Hero and Black Mask. More recently he has also appeared in western productions which have utilised his martial arts expertise such as Romeo Must Die, The One and Unleashed.  He has now decided that this film, Fearless or Huo Yuan Jia, will be his last wushu or martial arts film, which considering he is now 44 is not a huge surprise.

    For his last film in this style he has chosen another historical setting along the lines of Hero, however this time the setting is more recent being in the period 1880 to 1910. Also, this film is based upon the real life story of Huo Yuan Jia (played by Jet Li), a martial arts champion and hero of the Chinese people. According to what I have read, including the excellent Wikipedia entry (WARNING - spoilers included), the movie has a fairly liberal sprinkling of legends rather than facts and more than a little poetic licence. However, since I had not heard of this man before seeing the film, I was not overly concerned with its lack of strict accuracy. Interestingly, the story of the Bruce Lee film, The Chinese Connection is also based loosely on this man's story and disciples.

    The plot follows his life from childhood through to his death in 1910. Yuan Jia was the sickly child of a wushu master who taught many disciples the ways of martial arts, however, he refused to teach his son due to his illnesses. Despite his father's disapproval, Yuan Jia taught himself martial arts based upon what he gleaned from watching his father. As he grows up he thinks martial arts are all about winning and he becomes very arrogant as his skills and fame spread. Due to his oversized ego, he gets involved in an ill-advised fight with a rival martial arts teacher which results in great tragedy for him, despite winning the fight. He then disappears for a number of years and lives a quiet life in the countryside with a blind girl called Moon who looks after him and teaches him what is important in life. Upon his return he uses his skills to raise the level of pride amongst the Chinese people and in his own way, fights against the occupation of China by foreign powers. The leads to a challenge from the foreign chamber of commerce for him to fight four warriors of different disciplines in one epic bout to determine if Chinese fighting skills can be compared to those of other countries.

    This is a very well made film with beautiful cinematography, costumes and surprisingly good acting from Jet Li. It does not really challenge films like Crouching Tiger or Hero in terms of its production value but it is still of very high quality. I would also say that the subject matter of this film will not have the broadly based appeal that those films had either, which I suppose is evidenced by its relatively poor box office showing in the US ($24M). Having said that though, it will appeal more broadly than martial arts films generally as my wife also found it quite enjoyable and she will not sit through most martial arts films. As you would expect, the martial arts scenes are excellent, featuring choreography by Yuen Wo Ping who has fight choreographed numerous western and Chinese films. However, the main theme of redemption is certainly not an uncommon one and it lacks the mystical quality of the films I mentioned earlier.

    This is an excellent martial arts film, very well made and acted, however it will probably not play well to non-martial arts audiences.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality


    The video quality is excellent.

    The feature is presented in a 2.38:1 aspect ratio 16x9 enhanced which is very close to the original aspect ratio of 2.35:1.

    The picture was mostly very sharp and clear with just one or two short sections looking a little softer. Generally speaking the bitrate was very high. There was no evidence of low level noise.

    The colour was wonderful, especially in the countryside sequences where the beauty of the cinematography really stood out, as did the clarity of the transfer.

    On the artefacts front, I did notice one or two jagged edges but these were not distracting.

    There are subtitles in English, French and Catalan. The English subtitles are generally very good however one or two of them seemed to drop off the screen too quickly, especially during the opening sequence.

    The layer change occurs at 45:25 and was not noticeable during playback.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    The audio quality is very good.

    This DVD contains three audio options; a Mandarin Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack encoded at 384 Kb/s and the same in dubbed French and Catalan.

    Dialogue seemed clear and easy to understand but I don't speak any of the languages available here so I can't say for sure.

    The music by Shigeru Umebayashi (the composer of the wonderful music for House of the Flying Daggers) has added some wonderful music to this production. His score combines traditional Asian instrumentation with western instruments to great effect.

    The surround speakers were used throughout, adding music and effects to fight scenes. They provided quite an immersive sound stage despite the less than full bit rate.

     The subwoofer was also used regularly for bit hits, falls, thunder and the music.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use



    Nothing, nada, zilch.


    The menu is simple but functional incorporating some of the excellent music from the film.




    There is censorship information available for this title. Click here to read it (a new window will open). WARNING: Often these entries contain MAJOR plot spoilers.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    As with the censorship information this comparison is complex. I will start by discounting a couple of versions from the comparison. The Thai version (the only one to feature the Thai cut) is not English friendly (no subtitles) and only contains a Thai dubbed soundtrack. The R6 Chinese version, also does not contain subtitles in English. The Region 2 release is the same as ours. The R3 Hong Kong standard edition does not include English subtitles. This leaves the Region 3 Hong Kong director's cut and the Region 1 release, which are both English friendly. This Region 4 version of this movie (when compared to Region 3 DC) misses out on;

    The Region 3 version of this disc misses out on;

On the other hand, this Region 4 version of this movie (when compared to Region 1) misses out on;

    The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on;

The Region 3 seems to be the best overall, however, the director's cut may be overly long for the story but will include more action scenes. If you don't want the director's cut then Region 1 is the go. If you are happy to just have the movie itself, the local version is also fine. The film is also available in the US in a HD DVD/DVD combo disc with one version on each side.


    An entertaining and beautifully made martial arts historical epic.

    The video quality is excellent.

    The audio quality is very good.

    No extras.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Daniel Bruce (Do you need a bio break?)
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV667A DVD-V DVD-A SACD, using Component output
DisplaySony FD Trinitron Wega KV-AR34M36 80cm. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL)/480i (NTSC).
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationPioneer VSX-511
SpeakersMonitor Audio Bronze 2 (Front), Bronze Centre & Bronze FX (Rears) + Yamaha YST SW90 subwoofer

Other Reviews NONE