Notes from the back row 

China’s soul emerges and America’s dream comes true

By Feet Banks

Take it from me, but when you need a good break from life’s trials and tribulations, all you have to do is move to the country, eat a lot of peaches, and average two naps a day. Or don’t take it from me. Take it from Jet Li in what is apparently his last epic martial arts flick, Fearless, opening this week at the fantabulous Village 8.

Fearless is a biopic about the little-known Huo Yuanjia, a real Chinese warrior who started off as a real prick, cockily battling his way through life until a few drunken bad calls ended in the death of his master and the loss of his best friend and family.

Emotionally kicked in, Huo ends up living in the country where, along with naps, he is nursed back to life by a blind girl with whom he falls in love. He also figures out the standard rice-crop-as-life-metaphor (i.e. it’s lots of work and only worth something at the end) and decides to use his martial arts to promote peace and champion the values of China in a world that’s rapidly becoming westernized.

Framed by a true 1910 showcase fight in which Huo takes on a British boxer, a Spanish swordsman, a German (or is it Danish) shitkicker, and, most importantly, a Japanese master who cannot lose, Huo’s backstory is revealed and we witness a man facing his own cycle of violence and a nation finding its soul.

Li’s acting is as good as he gets, the film flows nicely and looks astonishing. Most importantly, the fight scenes are masterful and done without much CGI or Wire-fu. Just old fashioned smackdowns. Although little is known about the real life of Huo his final days are legendary and he is credited as a man who not only changed the way the world saw China, but also the way they saw themselves. This is a must for Kung Fu fans, but there’s lots of story, theme and drama in there for normal people too.

If you’re looking for real drama though, the kind that makes your nuts cringe and your ovaries twitch, watch Jackass: number two . Johnny Knoxville, now an almost-legitimate actor, goes back to his roots and gets ridiculously stupid with all his old skater buddies as the crew does the dumbest things they can think of and barely live through it. A lot of people will write this plot-less, stunt/pain/stupidity film as pure juvenile shit but that just makes the title of the movie that much more clever doesn’t it. (Think about it.)

And despite the fact that parents everywhere now have yet another excuse for why their idiot children are hurting themselves acting stupid I have no choice but to highly recommend this movie as not only superb entertainment, but also a true sociological turning point in humanity’s slippery slide down the tube. The proof is in the pudding, folks. These guys have no acting talent (Knoxville excluded, barely) and yet they are humungous movie stars, with flashy rides, big bankrolls, and even Wee Man has no problems getting laid. That, dear readers, is the ultimate dream of today’s celebrity-obsessed society. God Bless America. Now let’s all put on a blindfold and get gored by a yak. These idiots are contemporary geniuses.

AT VILLAGE 8 Sept. 22-28: Ryboys; Jackass; Fearless; The Black Dahlia; Talladega Nights; Everyone’s Hero; Little Miss Sunshine; Gridiron Gang; The Last Kiss.

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