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|Index||30 reviews in total|
"Little Big Soldier" is actually an odd-couple road flick set during
China's Warring States period. The war drama, spiced with the usual
Jackie Chan comedy, has been Jackie's brainchild for 20 years before
finally hitting the big screen. Chan had initially planned to play the
role of the young general but having aged since, he has to settle for
the role of the elderly soldier.
Well, having seen Jackie as the titular character, I have no complaints. He provides the role with its requisite charm and experience that it is so easy to root for him. A refreshing change from nonsensical comedies like "The Spy Next Door", I may add.
Jackie plays an unnamed soldier from the Liang State who survives an ambush by Qin forces that decimates the 2000-strong Liang army. The lowly soldier, who feigns death rather than fight, captures a young Wei general (Wang Leehom) and plans to 'trade' him for a plot of land as reward.
Along the way, however, captor and captive face a host of mishaps, misadventures and plot twists - and they have to team up in order to survive.
As Jackie's own project, you can be sure of the trademark Jackie stunts and image boosts. Playing a farmer forcibly conscripted into war, Jackie's message (or ego massage) is that war is bad for the people, birds and the environment. He throws in lots of slapstick and sometimes the comedy borders on the ridiculous.
Still, these are forgivable because it is easy to like Jackie's and LeeHom's characters. They have a sparkling screen chemistry that helps us overlook the plot-holes and lapses in logic. What's more important is that "Little Big Soldier" has a nostalgic feel, reminding us of Jackie's classics like "Drunken Master" and "Snake In The Eagle's Shadow". - By LIM CHANG MOH (limchangmoh.blogspot.com)
Little Big Soldier continues to reinforce a point, that while one can
afford to forgo Jackie Chan's rather dismal outing in any Hollywood
flicks of late, his Asian films are a totally different story
altogether. JC was said to have this story brewing for some two decades
now, and initially his plan was to play the Big General himself, but
good advice and probably with more confidence in his dramatic acting
ability meant he takes on the Little Soldier role, and went with Wang
Leehom for the other.
Maybe I'm crediting him too much since he came up with the story, but here's a film that would probably not work without JC taking on one of the characters, with the Little Soldier seem tailor made for him at this stage of his career, no longer needing to be the hero, but ever willing to be part of the underdogs, which Hollywood still frowns upon (hey, he's JC, he has to be a top notch cop/spy/secret agent/etc), as compared to everyday working man roles like that in Shinjuku Incident, Rob-B-Hood, and as a cowardly soldier whose self preservation instinct kicks into overdrive all the time.
Set prior to the unification of China by the Qin dynasty, the film opens with what seemed like a total annihilation in the battlefield between Wei and Liang troops, only to find Liang's Little Soldier being able to capture Wei's super Big General (Leehom) only because the latter is severely injured. With the promise of plenty of land for the live capture of an enemy general, Little Soldier makes it a point to cart Big General back to his country at all costs, so that he can settle down with new found wealth, coupled with an exemption from having to serve in the army. But of course Big General comes with a lot of baggage in knowing that his kindred had betrayed him and his elite troops in a battle, and are after him to ensure that he stays dead.
So lies the gist of the story, which to say anymore would be to spoil the fun and the depth of the story's development. Suffice to say JC's story contains enough to make you feel for the two lead characters, where their natural adversary would pave the way to inevitable friendship being forged by way of encountering and overcoming painful obstacles and challenges posed along the way, as the adage goes, two is better than one. JC too plays his character so well that you can't help but to endear to his multiple gimmicky toys he employs to survive in battles, plus the sheer luck and street smarts he has to rely on to get out of sticky situations. I'm not much of a Leehom fan, but he managed to pull of his role as the stoic general with aplomb, and shares some fine chemistry with JC, believable that these guys would be friends should they not be from different lands.
But the strength of the film comes from how the two characters contrast with, and how they rub off their respective ideals on each other. The Little Soldier aspires to lead a simple life of farming, to go back to his roots of a simple life, reminiscing upon his father's wise words, where rich means a plot of land to farm, two cows and a wife. Fighting in battles is not his cup of tea, and he'll do anything just to ensure that he comes out unscathed, even if it means being branded as a cowardly deserter. On the other hand, Big General aspires to conquer lands and if inevitable, to die gloriously in battle. Soon enough, he learns how having small but fulfilling, meaningful aspirations would be miles better than material wealth, of the joys that a simple, peaceful life can bring compared to one of constant fights. For the Small Soldier, lessons in the virtues of honour and courage get imparted, which leads to an especially touching and poignant finale.
Serving as action director. JC keeps all the fight sequences here fresh. You know how it is with action flicks when one battle scene doesn't offer anything new from the one that preceded it, JC had done something right in the fight choreography department. There are enough moments here to showcase straight forward fighting sequences, and those of his signature acrobatic buffoonery to suit the role of his Little Soldier to a T. Watch out too for his hilarious gimmicks employed, which will surely bring out a chuckle or two, which only JC can deliver in a true blue JC film.
It's been some time since JC had a major project rolled out every Lunar New Year, and this one comes just in time to perhaps continue in that tradition. If it's anything to go by, this film has surpassed expectations set low thanks to a lacklustre trailer, and thankfully the end product is confirmed to be miles better. He may be slower these days, but Little Big Soldier demonstrates that JC still has what it takes to deliver a Chinese blockbuster. As with almost all JC movies, sit back during the end credits roll to enjoy the many outtakes included.
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."
One of the most enjoyable Jackie Chan's movies in the last decade...
While there has always been a question or dilemma about Jackie Chan's dramatic range or even his laughable claim of wanting to become the next Robert DeNiro. Opportunities were there to take, with films like New Police Story and Shinjuku Incident. However, his performance as a drunken cop was met with critical despite and his wooden display in the against-type serious persona was met with similar discontent. So it is refreshing to see Chan back to what he is good at: physical comedy. This does not necessary mean more action, as Chan rarely fights or even if he does, he is simply avoiding fights. What is means is that Chan is trying to be funny and the audience also finds it funny as well. Not unlike Jet Li who have now successfully transformed from action icon into an actor, with his own acclaimed role in Warlords. Little Big Soldier is hopefully what you call a breakthrough performance and perhaps a step in the right direction for the aging Chan to take.
The movie goes like this: Chan is an old soldier who pretends to be dead on the battlefield. He avoids fights and by playing dead, he managed to survive a battle where everyone dies. Going by luck, he somehow managed to capture the enemy army general. From there the two roam across the oceans and the seas encountering everything along the way.
It is a delight to witness Mr. Chan in full flight. Rarely do we see this side of Jackie and somehow we never doubted at the back of our mind. Whereas, Chan usually plays one dimensional characters as a cop, spy, agent, cop and cop. Chan is given a character and by the end of the movie, I felt that Chan have succeeded in bringing the character of the old soldier back to life. This is not an understatement, but rather a real sense of achievement. That's not to say Chan have created something special. Perhaps, it serves as either a breakthrough or even a successful change in the right direction. There are moments in the film, where the audience laugh with Chan, escape with Chan and ultimately feel for Chan. Now that's something is that unheard of and missing for the last 40 years of this great man career? Lee-Hom Wang last seen in Ang Lee's Lust, Caution, delivers a wooden yet cool performance. While he was somewhat miscast and lost in Lust, Caution. Here, he is very much in control of what he is doing. Perhaps knowing his limited range and his ability to be cool,; Lee flairs far better in this role as the future heir. His chemistry with Chan is both fun and delightful to watch. There is a fight scene by the river banks which is fun enough for someone to enjoy.
All in all, Little Big Soldier is what you call, a little successful story. It is a light hearted movie that is surprisingly engaging. With Jackie Chan in one of his best character roles, Little Big Soldier is best served after dinner. Surely action fans may be somewhat disappointed in the lack of action, but true Chan fans will know and understand that Chan have finally fulfilled a lifelong dream. To be recognised as an actor and more importantly coming out of the movie as a character rather than his larger than life public persona Jackie Chan. I wouldn't go to say that Little Big Soldier will be everyone cup of tea, but for anyone who have followed Chan throughout all these years, I am certain that like Chan, you too will be proud...(Neo 2010)
I rate it 8/10
In ancient China, after a big ambush in a war, a soldier having faked
his death (Jackie Chan) takes captive a general of the opposing camp
and tries to get him back to his homeland for a reward. Little Big
Soldier is kinda like a buddy movie, or more accurately an odd-couple
road trip, except that the characters are really enemies. Jackie Chan
is virtually unrecognizable (I mean that I didn't think Jackie Chan all
the time while watching) except for his bumbling yet effective fighting
style (or avoiding hits non-fighting style) and ingenious battle
choreography. Despite what the somewhat lame title might imply, do not
expect epic battles between armies, you'll get one-on-one fights and
skirmishes between small groups focusing on individual battles. Jackie
plays a more complex character than usual and even has some choice
quiet and dramatic moments. The soldier is also quite likable made more
endearing by Chan's charismatic performance. Plus, it turns out that he
sings so good I thought it was someone else, but it wasn't! The general
was stoic and honorable : a good straight man.
The funny moments were amusing and the audience laughed a lot (was a full crowd at the Montreal Fantasia Festival that focuses on genre films). Humor is mostly of the absurd situation or physical slapstick type. The fight scenes were exciting and fast yet easy to follow (American action directors take note). There were a few shifts in tones between comedy and drama (especially one near the end) that worked surprisingly well. I didn't like the kind of washed-out pale colors throughout but as a few vivid sequences with brighter colors suggest, it was a stylistic choice. I found that underneath the hope for a better future theme, there was a sense of melancholy and sadness. I think this contributed, along with the historical background, to make Little Big Soldier deeper than the usual Jackie Chan comedy. I can understand after watching it why this project was so dear to his heart.
Rating : 7.5 out of 10
We all know Jackie Chan and his physical comedy, but in this it was
even more, with his freedom as a writer of this movie he brought some
really funny quotes in which made the movie even more fun to watch.
Also he puts a great twist in where the plot jumps between comedy and
Jackie Chan did a great job in this movie as the Producer, Screenwriter, Actor and Action Director.
Lee-Hom Wang with a weak performance in Ang Lee's Lust, Caution did a really good job here. Playing a young general Lee had a great chemistry with Jackie and his character. They made even a ridiculous fight between them by the river fun and enjoyable to watch.
Little Big Solider with the combination of action/adventure and the specific comedy of Jackie Chan is Great,Fun and Enjoyable movie.
Its been a long time since there was a Jackie movie with fun,story and
The movie "Little big soldier" stands up in terms of Jackie's Action scenes, his wonderful moves,and mannerism.
The movie would have gained critical acclaim if it was made in English language. Guess they wanted to make a historic/Traditional movie.
Nevertheless, The movie is good. Those who were disappointed after watching an old Jackie in "the karate kid" will be really happy to see him in this movie, with a great new load of stuff.
Waiting for the next action packed Jackie's movie in English.
Hope he pairs up to do another Rush Hour 4 or some cool movies where he doesn't drink much
While it doesn't have much in the way of the kind of groundbreaking
stunts that made his reputation and doesn't always work as well as it
could, taken as a whole Little Big Soldier is the best thing Jackie
Chan has done in years. Like Shanghai Noon, it was a pet project that
was kicking around for decades before it all came together: so long, in
fact, that Chan ended up playing a different part to the one he
originally intended, ending up as the pragmatic old soldier pulling
every trick and scam he knows to survive the vicious civil wars that
would finally see China bloodily united. The last of his family line,
his dreams of getting out of the army, buying a small farm, finding a
wife and starting a family suddenly look like a real possibility when,
after faking his death in a battle that sees both sides annihilated, he
stumbles across an enemy general and tries to take him back to his own
lines for his reward - pursued by bears, bandits, tribesmen and the
ruthless traitors who set up the general's defeat to usurp his position
and want to finish off the job. Naturally along the way the two men
learn from each other - Leehom Wang's young general that for those who
fight and die for him an honorable death is less important than a good
life, Chan that there is some value in honor - without ever quite
losing their determination to outwit the other.
It's well-worn territory and certainly sentimental, but it's honest sentiment made all the more affecting by being set in a convincingly war-ravaged country sparsely populated by shell-shocked people out to survive any way they can. Despite the odd nod to Kurosawa (albeit the rarely unleashed knockabout comedy Kurosawa), it's really a Western in disguise, with tribes of nomads standing in for the Indians, but it's also a timeless anti-war fable that could just as easily be set in the American Civil War, the Wars of the Roses or the fall of Carthage. There's enough action along the way to keep things entertaining, and if Chan isn't as fast as he used to be there's still some ingenuity in the choreography of a fight for a sword neither man can get hold of long enough to wield or an escape from some slave-trading natives while they're distracted with a skirmish of their own, though unfortunately there are also some particularly nasty horse falls that clearly aren't faked even after two seconds were cut by the BBFC for animal cruelty (Asian films don't put much of a premium on animal welfare). Director Sheng Ding is great at action and emotion, but poor at visual comedy, with the various gizmos Chan uses to fake death - retractable arrows, fake blood - never quite presented to the best effect, but he gets enough right to redeem his failings, with the ending - surprisingly bleak for a Chan film - packing quite an emotional punch.
As a big fan of Jackie's, its hard to stay subjective whenever it comes
to the movies he makes. Sometimes the movies are great, other times
they are quite terrible, and sometimes he just makes it land somewhere
in between. I can say honestly that this movie is one of the movies you
will want to place on the top shelf of your movie collection. Its old
fashioned, wonderfully comical at times, and tells a story of a small
part of a large history of China.
People say that Jackie Chan's acting is hollow. While I agree that this can sometimes be the case, its only because of the terrible "Hollywood" machine movies he is inclined to make versus the traditional Hong Kong action/drama/comedy flicks he is used to. Hollywood Jackie Chan can be quite terrible (The Tuxedo, The Medallion, Around the World in 80 Days, The Spy Next Door, etc). Traditional Jackie Chan is great (New Police Story, Rob-B-Hood, Who Am I?, along with all the Hong Kong classics Jackie Chan has under his belt like Drunken Master, Police Story, City Hunter) I'm rather frustrated at the implication that Jackie Chan cannot act, and that this or The Karate Kid are trumpeting his newfound skills as an actor, when in my opinion he has been a superb actor far before that. Just watch New Police Story.
In any case, this was an excellent watch, and has earned itself a spot on the top shelf of my collection. Hopefully, there will be an English dub sometime in the future so that more people will be able to watch this fine film.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Flawed masterpiece from Jackie Chan has him giving an Oscar worthy
performance that coupled with Karate Kid and the Shinjuku Incident
should put Chan on the fast track to serious actor status in Hollywood.
The film has Chan as a foot soldier finding a wounded, but still living general in the bodies left after a large battle. Knowing that the general could gain him land and a way out of military service if he brings him home a captive, Chan hauls him down the road. However as circumstance, warlords and some of the generals own men pursue them a friendship of sort forms.
Stunning fight scenes and fantastic performances come together to form one of Jackie Chan's best films ever. You can pretty much flush his Hollywood films when you compare them to this little gem. And while I know I've loved some of Chan's recent films from China, there is something so solid in this to make you feel as though it was from a different filmmaker. This is a film that makes you sit up and reevaluate Chan as an actor and filmmaker. He hasn't raised the bar he kicked it into orbit Long in gestation, this film was originally intended to have Jackie play the young general, but time and tide have conspired to give him one of his best roles ever. Funny touching, and wise Jackie hits every emotion letter perfect, and when the end comes I think you'll be hard pressed not to be moved deeply by what transpires.
There is so much to love I can't not recommend the film highly enough.
In fairness I do have to warn you that the film isn't perfect. At times there is a battle between being light and serious that doesn't quite work. The film also meanders a bit in the wilderness at the start as if they are trying to fill in a couple of minutes in running time.
Ultimately though my quibbles are minor and this is a grand return to form, nay reinvention of Jackie Chan.
One of the great finds of 2010.
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