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Two armies clash in ancient war-torn China; none survive but a young general from a royal house and a farmer foot soldier who binds the fallen leader to take him home and claim a reward. Many stand in their way: an abandoned songstress, the noble's own murderous younger brother, desperate beggars, rough slavers, and the pair's own differing agendas. Through it all, a bond forms between the two, and what will happen at journey's end becomes anyone's guess. Written by
I forgot to tell you, the reward for capturing a live enemy general is land, cash, and exemption from military service. Exemption from military service for life! Only tilling land. No need to go to war.
There's always a victor in a war. Only when the victor has unified the world will there be true peace so little men like you can lead a regular life.
You know what? If you hadn't gone to war with us, I could have been living this life right now!
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Outtakes from the film play during the end credits. See more »
LITTLE BIG SOLDIER tells the story of a farmer forced into conscription, and has been looking to get out of the army ever since. His great chance arrives when he stumbles upon a wounded general from an enemy state, and he kidnaps him, intending to claim credit for the capture, which includes five "mu" of land, and most importantly, honorable discharge from the army.
Jackie's brainchild which had been stuck in development hell for 20 years, it was easy to see the amount of effort put into LBS over the years. The plot is simple but is one that is refreshing and original, and the story progresses through witty plot devices and hilarious situations. Chan's various gadgets used for feigning death showcases his trademark slapstick humor which we all have come to know and love.
His character alone stands out from the protagonist in most of his other movies. Jackie plays the Old Soldier, who is cowardly, ever optimistic, good natured, and only dreams(and sings) about getting home. He is a flawed yet lovable figure whose own interests and moral values seem to always come into conflict. He aspires but is never boldly ambitious. He'd hurt people but would never kill someone. Such dynamism in a seemingly simple-minded character is especially rare in an action movie, much less a Jackie Chan one, where he is so often the flawless good guy. And all this is topped by Chan's excellent performance, displaying mischief, kindliness, and a little bit of villainy all at once. And he doesn't forget to convey important messages about life, such as filial piety, loyalty, and the negative effects of war. Leehom Wang, on the other hand, delivers a competent performance as the young, patriotic, and upright general whose ambition and stern personality clashes with the Old Soldier's agenda in every possible way. The two share a remarkable chemistry here, and their exchanges a joy to behold.
But this film is not without it's weaknesses. While the plot's strength was in its simplicity, it threatened to throw the audience off by wearing too thin at times, and the lack of major turning points made the movie less engaging than it could have been. The humor was there but not hard-hitting enough, and too many of them die off very quickly without follow-ups. The action scenes are adequate, despite being slightly less ambitious than those in Jackie's other films, both in complexity and in quantity.
Despite these, fans of JC will not be disappointed by this outing of his. This is easily one of Jackie's best films in the past ten years, and carries an excellent, and most importantly, original storyline. Not a masterpiece, but like what the Old Soldier would say: "Ting Hao De".
That meant: "Pretty good."
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