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Legacy of Huo Yuanjia Worth An Apology
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After a 10-month period during which evidence was prepared, the case of Huo Yuanjia's family vs. Fearless opened in court yesterday. The Huo family held a press conference in Tianjin Wednesday to announce that they have abandoned trying to seek financial compensation but demanded an apology from the film companies.

According to Shanghai Youth Daily, Huo Zizheng, the great-grandson of Huo Yuanjia and family attorney Yang Zhongkai told the press Wednesday that they demand an apology from the film production and distribution companies, including China Film Group Corporation's Beijing Film Studio and EDKO Film Ltd.

In January, world famous kung fu star Jet Li's new movie Fearless (Huo Yuanjia) was released around Chinese cinemas. It is a biographical film based on a true historical story. In lore, Huo Yuanjia is a national hero from the Tianjin countryside where he founded the martial arts school Jing Wu Men School and fought against several foreign fighters in the declining Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). He died on September 14, 1910 at age of 42, just after defeating 10 Japanese judokas.

There is an additional plot in the Jet Li movie that all the Huo's family members were killed in a revenge action. Huo Zizheng once asked, "Who are we now if the film really tells the truth?" The Huo family considered this film to have twisted history and hurt their feelings. They soon filed a lawsuit, charging the film companies infringing upon Huo family's image, and claiming damages and an apology, as well as termination of the film's screenings.

But Yang Zhongkai said yesterday, "After thinking twice, Huo family has decided to give up seeking financial compensation. In this case, the infringers would better to apologize for their actions, not just to pay some money and go free. We are happy to know that this lawsuit has drawn much attention from society and film industry."

Yang said that the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television has released a new regulation in April which asks film and TV companies to provide film, literature and script copies to authorities if their productions relate to true historical figures, and must seek opinions from central or provincial government.

A new TV series on Huo Yuanjia began shooting weeks ago, and the director and crew have gone to Huo's family to discuss details. "All those having happened indicated that we have achieved the goals after we filed the lawsuit -- to respect the history, respect the famous hero, and enhance our legal system."

Huo Zizheng said, "I think this case has significant impact. I don't want money because I didn't suffer from any financial loss. I don't want to make money from my forefather's name. I just want the defendants to admit the mistake, and help to restore the reputation and cure the bad social influence caused by the film."

Huo Zizheng said the result of the case is not so important. "We have prepared a huge amount of evidence to present at the court. I believe the law will grant us a fair verdict," he added. The film companies have not responded although a publicist did refer the case to their attorney. 

( by Zhang Rui, December 15, 2006)

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