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Thứ Sáu, tháng 9 22, 2006

No. 1143 ( Minh Châu dịch)

After ‘Fearless,’ No More Martial Arts

Bill Picture, Sep 22, 2006

Chinese martial arts superstar Jet Li insists that, despite its action-flick-appropriate title, his latest film, Fearless, is more than just another formulaic, kung fu punch-up. According to Li, who recently announced his retirement from the martial arts genre to pursue more dramatic roles, Fearless has a serious message aimed at today’s youth.
The film tells the story about Chinese national hero Huo Yuanjia, who, at the turn of the last century, preserved the morale of the Chinese people against the degradation of foreign powers in China.
The 43-year-old Li also discussed his desire to give the action film genre a soul. He shared his new outlook on life, inspired by his Buddhist faith and forever reaffirmed by a brush with death in the 2004 Indonesian tsunami, when Li and his family were vacationing in the Maldives.

One of the themes in ‘Fearless’ is that respecting one’s self and others is the key to peace. Why are you making this film now, after considering it for 10 years?

In 2003, I read that one-quarter of a million people had committed suicide in China that year. I thought, ‘What is going on?’ It did not make any sense, because things in China, the economy, is better than it has been in a long time.
So I said, ‘How can we inspire people, particularly young people, to not give up? How can we make them be brave enough to go to the end?’ You know, we are our own biggest enemy. That is the message of this film.
In Huo Yuanjia’s case, he was a champion and his ego got the best of him. But, before he died, he learned what is really important in life. I can relate to his story.
When I was younger, I was a champion, I started making movies, I became a big star and I thought I was the best. All I cared about was me. I didn’t care about other people’s feelings. But when I turned 30, fame and success no longer made me happy.
For the last 10 years, I have studied Buddhism, and now I understand the importance of love and compassion.

But, you admit that the anti-fighting message of this film is timely?

Yes. You know, the Chinese characters for wushu [the traditional Chinese term for “martial arts”] mean “stop war.”
If we want to stop war, we must learn to understand our enemies and respect our enemies. That is the philosophy of martial arts.
If we refuse to see and appreciate the other side’s point of view, then the fighting never ends and everyone loses. If we could learn to communicate with open hearts, we could solve a lot of the world’s problems.

Why did you decide to stop making martial arts films?

The formula doesn’t work for me anymore. The formula is, nice guy gets beat up, he learns martial arts, he gets revenge.
I have made a lot of these movies, and sometimes I feel very guilty because we are teaching children only to kick butt. The physical is only part of wushu. A real martial artist knows that violence is not a solution.
That is what Huo Yuanjia learns, that wushu is not about fighting. So, I hope that this film will help change the formula.

Were you nervous about playing a national hero and one of your own idols?

Just like the name of the movie, I am fearless. [laughs]
I don’t care about reviews anymore, or my career or my reputation. I cannot control that. I just try to do my best.

How do you want people to remember you?

At different ages, we are different people. When we are 20, we want success and power and a sports car. But, when we get older, those things are not important anymore.
I don’t worry about a legacy anymore. I have stopped trying to define myself for other people. It’s not important what people think of me. I just want to be a good person.