Review of Fearless
In Fearless, Jet Li plays Huo Yuanjia, a Chinese Wu Shu fighter who competes in martial arts tournaments in the 20th Century. Ronny Yu's past films include Unleashed,Hero and Romeo Must Die. I had the privilege to interview him.
Rogue Pictures will release Fearless on September 22nd, 2006.
NYC MOVIE GURU: How did you end up in Fearless?
JL: Iíve had the movie in my head for a long time already because when I was little, I saw the first action film, a Bruce Lee movie. It [was] about his students [coming] back [to] revenge. 10 years ago, I made Fist of Legend, the same character [with] his students. I feel very close to [Bruce Lee]. I made the movie 32 years after he died and I keep his beliefs and philosophy. Also, I think that martial arts in my life is always with me. Everything I know is from martial arts philosophy, so I want to make a movie to talk about it. We made a lot of action movies already. Usually, people only focus on fighting. Wu Shu translates as ďstop warĒ. A lot of people only talk about war and [fighting without stopping]. Nobody talks about [stopping]. I want to find the story that has the room to talk about this characterís philosophy, physical and mental [characteristics], [and] how to be a nice person.
NYC MOVIE GURU: When you practice Wu Shu, do you easily follow the philosophy of avoiding conflict?
JL: It really depends on the coach. [In] different levels you learn different kind of martial arts. In the beginning, for the first 3 to 5 years, you only learn the physical part, but after a while, you think about life. Why do the men always complain to the women? Why do the women always complain to the men? Why does the student complain to the teacher? So, then you know Ying and Yang. I will always have both sides. They have their own opinions. Both sides have their own opinions and thatís what causes [them] to fight. A lot of teachers teach that and maybe some teachers [donít], I donít know because, worldwide, a lot of people are learning martial arts. Itís just like people talking about a gun, [which] doesnít mean good or evil. Martial arts doesnít mean good or evil [either]. It really depends on who uses it and whoís learning. So that if youíre the martial arts coach, the most important teaching beforehand is why you have to learn martial artsóthe meaning.
NYC MOVIE GURU: How far away from martial arts are you going to go in the next films youíre going to star in?
JL: This movie gives me the room to talk about all of my beliefs that Iíve learned in the pastóphysical, mental, everything. Thatís why I say that this is the last Wu Shu movie for me. But I will still [be in] some [action] movies. I made a Lionsí Gate movie, Rogue, which has an FBI [agent], a cop, gangster and mafia. In some sequences on the street [has characters] beating up each other and I never know which punch is a Japanese punch or an American kick. I think [characters] just beat [others] up [in the movie] to tell the story. [Thereís] no philosophy.
NYC MOVIE GURU: What are the chances that youíll be in a romantic film?
JL: I want to know, [too] because no studio offered me this. I never has the chance to prove to a studio that I can make a movie without action.
NYC MOVIE GURU: Would you like to be in a romantic film?
JL: Every actor wants to change, but a movie is a business. No one will give you the opportunity to make that kind of film until you try to make it yourself.
NYC MOVIE GURU: Was there a point in your career when you didnít realize what your skills are meant for?
JL: When I was little, I [won] a 5-time [championship] in China. I just tried my best. After two or three times, I felt very good. I didnít say it until, one day, when I made a movie, I became a well-known actor in Asia when, suddenly, a lot of people around me made me become selfish [and aggressive] and think that Iím the king. Thatís the normal life. If you donít know how to control that part, you will lose [and] make a mistake because you [wouldnít] be listening to your mom [or] your coach.
NYC MOVIE GURU: What do you think about Tony Jaa and Muy Thai?
JL: Heís very good. A few years ago, my friend showed me a new movie [with] a new guy. I asked who [he is]. He said [that I] should watch it. You always need new blood to come to this genre, [so] I think itís great.
NYC MOVIE GURU: Are you more script-oriented now?
JL: Thatís what we try to create. If you want to believe in something, you need prove yourself to the studio or to somebody. I want to show different angles to [show] that violence is not the only solution.
NYC MOVIE GURU: How does the Chinese culture of cinema differ from the American culture of cinema?
JL: I think that Chinese culture differs from American culture. In [American cinema], you need to show the love so that the audience can feel the warmth. In [Chinese cinema], usually, by that time, they already turn on the lights [in the theater].