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Huo Yuanjia

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Anthony Pollard
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Huo Yuanjia

Huo Yuanjia (September 2006)

Translated is “Fearless”

Hong Kong-Chinese Feature Film


The movie reviewed here is titled Huo Yuanjia translated to mean “Fearless”. This movie is written by Chris Chow, Chrisitne To, Wang Bin, and Ling Feng. There are several themes, one inferred from Ronny Yu, the director of this film, helps us to realize humility. Though, it is possible the intended theme is nationalism, as with many of the extraordinary films allowed to be published in China. The main character is a man named Huo Yuanjia (the same as in the title), and is portrayed by the famed 21st century actor Jet Li. The title Huo Yuanjia is used in the 2006 Chinese released version of the movie. The name Fearless is used for the English released version.


Two young boys are growing up, they have no siblings, but they are lifelong friends. In reality in China, based on studies of Gender and Generation, a boy child is honorable. One of the boys is Huo Yuanjia who wants to be like his father (Huo Endi), a compassionate fighter and a champion for the people. But, Yuanjia’s father following the lead of his wife, who is Yuanjia’s mother, both want him to study his academics and calligraphy, so he can be politically competent.

Yuanjia’s father (Huo Endi) allowed himself to lose a fight in order to preserve the life of an opponent he would have killed. Yuanjia did not understand, so he got into a fight with the son of the fighter who had won. Yuanjia loses the fight, and after being scolded for defending his father’s honor and their martial art, he vowed to never lose a fight again, thereby proving him and his father’s martial art was the best in China.  

Huo Yuanjia did marry and had a daughter. He persisted she study and learn academics and calligraphy. Additionally, Huo Yuanjia did not lose another fight. His arrogance was abounding. He did not feel as if he was doing anything amiss, that is until he made a mistake, accidentally killing someone based on a misunderstanding. As a result, Yuanjia lost his entire family because they were murdered. He felt he was dishonorable. He fled.

Huo Yuanjia was taken care of by a blind woman. Figuratively, she did not know who he was or what he did, but she took care of him. She help him to be educated about the purpose of life. She showed him true love. When she did find out who he was, she was amazed and blessed.

Huo Yuanjia was now tasked with saving the sovereignty of China. He acquired humility and honor. He learned forgiveness and to ask for it too. Now, he was willing to sacrifice himself for the good of the people, just like his father did before him. Huo Yuanjia dies for China, but achieves enlightenment and martyrdom.


Being the best fighter awards a man status among the people. This physical prowess does not give way for a woman to earn this type of status; one might argue gender bias. However, violence is the power that was respected rather than intellect and love.

Wikipedia documents there were other versions of this film that were published, which included Michele Yeoh. Even though she was instrumental in its production, her scenes were cut. The film was originally 140 minutes long. The original 140 minute version was released in 2008, in Northern America, on DVD.

It was martial arts violence proving to be the evidence of power. Huo Yuanjia loses against the Japanese fighter because he refuses to hit him with the killing blow, but reveals he could have done so. The Japanese fighter recognizes Yuanjia’s mercy, and then declares him the winner. In the end, love and compassion for one’s adversary is a nationalist virtue to emulate. This film is based on a true story.

In Conclusion

Gender and Generational Considerations

Huo Yuanjia’s journey to enlightenment was assisted by a blind woman who showed him compassion, something he did not receive from his father, but also received from his mother. From his father, he learned ambition and desire. His father did not let him learn martial arts, but young Yuanjia he anyway. He vowed he would never lose a fight. Huo Yuanjia’s vanity caused him to make decisions he did not actually think through before proceeding.

As depicted in the film, Huo Yuanjia became a hero in China because he humbled himself and fought for patriotism. He fought for the people rather than himself. In the end, the movie suggests he gained enlightenment, but also seems that he dies. The blind woman who helped him, was able to see him after his enlightenment. He was smiling and she was happy he was free from his former mental turmoil.