"Fearless" is the type of movie that leaves the viewer with the impression that the martial arts in China, as boxing and other fighting contests in the West, have a primacy dating to a long time ago, and this despite the evidence the 1949 revolution and the Mao times that were conducted as to purge as much about ancient culture as could be. This long heritage of these arts, and the considerable acting and fighting arts capabilities of Mr. Li and his character adversaries take the aura of martial arts films to a new level that merits direct legacy from the Lee films of the 1970's and the like. The thing about such films today, and of the same thematic complexities as the Lee films, is they have more stark, impressionable, and even shocking imagery than the Lee films that put down the pavestones for the current media. This 2006 production deserves a repeated audience and discussion as to the actual redeeming value of martial arts training and how such things are portrayed for the public (not, for instance, that every one has to be on the order of the epic "Crouching Tiger, ... ) about the cultural and societal terrain of the last years of the Qing dynasty that proved in spirit, and in retrospect, to have finally favored civic and political freedoms and a constitution, bicameral rule, and this along with many other features of administration in to the modern world; though without a doubt the adaptability and hopes about this of the populace to promised reforms was abated by what many figures of the times proposed as the unlikelihood of the Nationalists and the proximity at the same time to Lenin's kingdom over the Western lands. Sun Yat - sen, who was a great force for unity, died in the process of bringing actual home rule to the masses, and this is addressed partially in the film with various and sundry tragedy that trim possibilities again and again for the main character(s.)
Master Hou in the story undergoes impossible fighting contests and ordeals and leverages everything to gain the right of passage as the fighting champion of Tian jin at his Wu shu methods and style, and at the eventuality and completion of this project that takes on a life of its own, throws off the glorious yet burdensome title of "best in Tian jin", and by some personal tragedies involved, takes to the country to recover from his battles and the social forces that made these contests so forcefully and brutally contested. The Buddhist tone and older cultural beliefs of the social environment in the aftermath of his title - seeking are palpable in his removal to a place in the countryside where he is found and nurtured by those in the hills along his path. Much of the actually and extremely valuable parts of the film take place after his return to Tian jin from the hills. A must - see for those into martial arts productions, and again and again.