Last week, film fanatics and friends Fred Sullivan and Yasser Akram exchanged lists of 25 of their most beloved films. Starting this week, each will watch one movie from the other’s list and then discuss what they thought of them. There will be discussion and disagreements, applause and indifference, and it will be recorded here for you to enjoy.
This week, the boys watched the films at number 25 on the lists. Here is how they got on.
Yasser: Soooooo… I watched ‘Crimes and Misdemeanours‘ and I assume you watched ‘Fearless‘.
Fred: Yes. Which shall we start with?
YA: The more superficial of the two.
FS: Is that ‘Fearless’?
YA: (laughs) I don’t know. Is it?
FS: I think so.
FS: I can honestly say that I had never heard of it before this week and, when I found out what it was about, I wasn’t holding out much hope of enjoying it.
YA: …and then you watched it…
FS: After ten minutes nothing had happened to change that opinion…
YA: Yeah, it starts off as just another martial arts movie.
FS: … I started liking it as soon as Huo (Jet Li) became a grown-up and it became a very good and exciting movie. He’s a bit of a prick who seems to have everything he desires, but then learns some valuable life-lessons. Cliched though it is, you know I am a sucker for all that.
YA: I think it’s very inspirational.
FS: Is that why you like it?
YA: Well, a tad. More so because it stirs emotions.
FS: You see, I found it curiously unemotional. Jet Li was good in it, but I didn’t really care what happened to him at the end.
YA: I found the way things take a turn in his life very churning.
YA: I think my favourite scene in the movie is where he and his opponent (Shido Nakamura) are comparing teas.
FS: (laughs) Oh? I found that didn’t flow as well as the rest of the movie.
YA: I think it showed how he came full circle, and matured so much that he was able to show his wisdom.
YA: What he said about how one martial art isn’t better or worse than the other, that it’s the person’s skill and knowledge that should be taken into account… I though that was one of the best things he says.
FS: I guess I felt that throughout the movie there was a constant contrast between phenomenal fighting scenes and the more human drama that, in the most part, was done really well. That scene just slowed it down a bit.
YA: I undertsand what you mean, but if that scene wasn’t in the film it wouldn’t have made my top 25.
FS: Can we talk fight scenes?
YA: My favourite is the one with Chin (Chen Zhi Hui) in the restaurant.
YA: Everything before had seemed like child’s play to Huo.
FS: There was also the one with his childhood rival on the elevated platform. A particular highlight. I don’t like martial arts movies with a lot of preposterous jumping and levitating like ‘Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon‘.
YA: … which had the same fight choreographer…
FS: Good knowledge! Gold star!
YA: It’s on the cover of the DVD (laughs).
FS: (laughs) He must be a legend in China if he’s worked on their biggest international hits of the last ten years.
YA: I wouldn’t say that. There’s ‘Ip Man‘ which almost made my list.
FS: Now I have heard of that.
YA: From anyone I know?
FS: I’m lying.
FS: I have to come now to the political subtext. I am generally quite cynical about anything that China allows the western world to see. For such a technologically advanced nation, China likes to emphasise its traditions of ‘the simple life’ and tranquility.
YA: Are you still upset about Brad Pitt’s inability to enter China because of ‘Seven Years in Tibet‘?
FS: (laughs) No. In this film the mighty but noble Chinese overcomes the influences fo the West and Japan.
YA: But these films are set in a different era.
FS: You can set something in the past and still make a political statement about today. Look at ‘The Crucible‘ for example.
YA: You might be right, but It depends on how much influence China has over its propaganda. I don’t think it’s as bad as having Goebbels, for example.
FS: You reckon? I would say it’s on a par.
YA: I think you watch too much news.
FS: (laughs) Maybe it’s my deep rooted cynacism… and my desire to get my blog banned in China.
YA: (laughs) So… ‘Fearless’. Rate it out of 10.
FS: Once it got going it was pretty engrossing with some brilliant fight scenes, humourous moments, and a good story. It was beautifully filmed and the performances of Jet Li and Yong Dong were very good. It just lacked a bit of emotional punch for me, no pun intended. I give it 7/10.
YA: That’s a lot better than I anticipated.
FS: (laughs) If I’m honest, it surprised me too.
Part two of this week’s blog can be read here.