Heart of gold

By By Aaron Zundel

By Aaron Zundel

Jet Li’s “Fearless”

Rogue Pictures

Directed by Ronny Yu

Written by Ronny Yu

Starring: Jet Li, Nakamura Shido, Collin Chow and Betty Sun

Rated PG-13/105 minutes

Opened Sept. 22

Two-and-a-half out of four stars

Jet Li is getting old. And in his newest movie, “Fearless,” it shows. While it’s true that “Fearless” is a lot of fun (if you’re into cinematic ultra kung-fu), the believability of Jet Li’s particular brand of kick-ass wushu is constantly in question when the man looks like he could use a few quarts of Morgan Fairchild’s wrinkle cream.

Still-wrinkles aside-“Fearless” does the kung-fu thing with flair. Better than that, though, is that, in a world where snazzy ninja movies are a dime a dozen, this show has a heart in addition to its many flying fists of bone-crushing madness.

Directed by Ronny Yu, “Fearless” tells the supposedly true story of Huo Yuanjia, a turn-of-the-century wushu master and all-around destroyer of men. From humble beginnings, Yuanjia eventually moves on to become the greatest fighter in all of China, but not without a few stumbling blocks in his personal life along the way.

According to Jet Li, “Fearless” will be his last “martial arts” movie-whatever that means. And, to be honest, there could have been worse movies for him to go out with-a lot worse. Jet Li’s performance as the great Yuanjia is, for the most part, his usual over-the-top fair. But there are a few moments in “Fearless” in which Li showcases some authentic acting talent, and it gives one hope that he might be able to sustain a normal acting career now that he has retired from martial arts films.

For a guy who directed “Freddy vs. Jason” and one of the “Chucky” movies, director Ronny Yu has come a long, long way. In “Fearless,” the director not only exhibits some very solid control of his camera, but also a greater understanding of emotion and drama. That’s not to say that “Fearless” is going to be nominated for best picture or anything-far from it. But the film does have a very palpable and genuine human side to it, and that’s something you don’t find in martial arts movies very often.

It’s refreshing. Like a dragon-kick to the pancreas.