Jackie Chan stars as a grizzled veteran who kidnaps a young enemy general, then escorts him on a long journey to collect a reward, in this comic martial arts extravaganza set in the days of ancient China.
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Little Big Soldier is a wonderful display of Jackie's acrobatic style of martial arts and humor. The plot is tight and moves quickly but this movie contains an element of pathos that I wasn't ware of in his previous films. At first, Jackie's character sees a young enemy general as a way out of poverty but their journey forces him to view his prize as an ally. The young noble is immersed in the life view from another class and comes to see and respect the depth of his companion. Fun with a message.
Little Big Soldier is in Mandarin with English subtitles. It tells the story of the aftermath of a great battle between two warring states in China around 220 BC. The soldiers of Liang and Wei fight a horrific battle before the movie begins and the only to two survivors are Chan, the soldier from Liang and a General from Wei. Chan takes the General captive and is going to return to Liang and claim a reward of 5 acres of land. The comedic journey is full of action and Drama. In this time period China as we know it did not exist. There were 7 warring states each fighting for control of all the others. The movie is based on the real events of that time period, but the story itself is fictional. Don't expect the Jackie Chan of the American films, but you will find he story interesting and fun to watch. The stunts involve a water buffalo crashing through a brick wall, sword play, throwing rocks in a fight, a well choreographed fight for a sword, between the Soldier and the General. There are a few fantasy scenes, that might confuse you as you watch the film because you don't realize they are a fantasy scene until it is over. The Film takes place in the same time period as Hero, with Jet Lei and is about same subject matter, the wars between the Seven states. I recommend this film.
I've seen most of Chan's ouvre and, as I was watching this enjoyable little film, I kept thinking to myself, "Wow, a JC film that feels modern." Of course Chan has other films that "feel modern", like some of his recent American fare, but even those play for wide audiences and are conventional. "Little Big Soldier" feels more like a major Hong Kong release that appeals to regular joes and an artier crowd; think "Hero" or "The House of Flying Daggers" only far less dramatic and with far less fanfare. The story, while fairly conventional, employs some storytelling touches that are more prevalent in modern films (the surprise situations that come about only because the main character is dreaming; the red-herrings that set you up to believe the story is about to go one way or will head one way only to go the other; the seemingly upside-down ending). The shooting locales and the visuals (while rarely expansive) are all stunning and expertly filmed. All of these things elevate "Little Big Soldier" and make it more than it probably ought to be. The movie is about Jackie Chan's seemingly deserting soldier who is not about being a soldier at all but about being a survivor. This is actually quite deceptive because Chan's soldier, while unorthodox, is a man of his army through-and-through but he is imbued with a mind of his own and a trickster spirit. The movie focuses heavily on Chan's character who ends up catching the general from the opposing army and he takes him, despite much trial and tribulation, back to his city. This movie is supposedly set at a time in China's history when there were several ruling (and warring) dynasties. It is about one man's take on life and how he passes this along to another, but both soldiers have some things to learn from each other.
There is a lot to like in the movie. It goes down easy and is non-abrasive. Chan, still capable of putting on some fun action scenes, plays someone closer to his age and who is a bit weary so the action suits his character; he is not the Chan of old who is fighting Benny Urquidez or a slew of diamond-obsessed mobsters and thug-punk street gangs at a breakneck, frenetic pace. Chan also does what he has talked about doing for a long time: he acts. There are a couple of scenes that showcase Chan's acting chops and his character's warm pathos. I think that this is my favorite Chan film of the last 5 years (not counting "The Forbidden Kingdom" but having the dream of Chan and Li together after so many years...that just isn't fair to compare by). Chan fans and non-fans alike can easily enjoy this movie. The younger audience probably will too.
Reviewed in the United States on September 24, 2011
Despite its outbursts of humor, there's a sort of melancholy, elegiac feel to LITTLE BIG SOLDIER. Viewing this period film, you can't help but be struck with how Jackie Chan is now opting to sit out the more arduous action stunts. Not even Jackie can beat down Father Time who, I'm assuming, can easily divert whatever everyday household utensil Jackie cleverly applies against him. But our man is aging gracefully, so give him that.
LITTLE BIG SOLDIER ("Da bing xiao jiang") has long been a labor of love for Jackie. It's been in the works for so long now, that when it was first proposed, Jackie had intended to play the much younger role of Leehom Wang's warlord. Instead, today, he plays the reluctant old soldier. The movie is set during China's Warring States Period, before the Qin Dynasty united the country. From this chaotic era seven feuding states eventually rose to prominence. In 227BC our story begins, in the aftermath of the horrific battle at Phoenix Hill between the armies of the Wei and the Liang.
There are only two survivors, a timid footsoldier from Liang (Jackie) and the Wei's fierce young general (Leehom Wang). The footsoldier, the heavy years pressed on him, has survived by playing dead (dude has a collapsible arrow on his chest). He sees an opportunity to seize the wounded general captive, hoping for a fat reward and safe passage home to Liang. LITTLE BIG SOLDIER, more a buddy film than a wuxia epic, chronicles the pair's bicker-colored journey. Inevitably, the soldier and the general learn, to their dismay, that they would have to cooperate with each other to surmount the obstacles they encounter. And close behind, the Wei's crown prince is in hot pursuit, intending to slay his own general for some mysterious purpose.
After decades of killing himself for his audience, Jackie Chan deserves some slack. Now in his mid-fifties Jackie Chan eschews his patented death-defying stunts in favor of character acting and slapstick comedy, except that his slapstick does still feature the occasional remarkable bit of acrobatics (that creative sequence with the rock-throwing, for example). Jackie and Leehom Wang make a fun odd couple. Jackie's ebbulience and natural screen presence keep the whole enterprise afloat, and his pragmatic coward is inherently appealing and, to me, very reminiscent of Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton (except, y'know, more talky). The plot does tend to ramble, and just when you think this is a straight-up chase comedy, the story throws in a swerve at the end. Except that I'm not sure the movie's earned the emotional reaction it's seeking in its closing moments. LITTLE BIG SOLDIER is an amiable film showcasing a fine acting performance from Jackie Chan, but the story lacks weight. The film also loses traction by featuring characters that only provided jarring moments and made me scratch my head in bafflement: those weird bandits and that cryptic songstress, what the hell was up with them? I'm trying hard to be objective, to not compare this one with past Jackie Chan classics. So let me say this, with an eye towards its genre contemporaries, LITTLE BIG SOLDIER is not as good DETECTIVE DEE but is better than Vicki Zhao's MULAN. 3.5 out of 5 stars for this one. It's worth a peek.
As ever in a Jackie Chan flick, stick around for the outtakes during the closing credits. The DVD's bonus stuf: the Making Of featurette, with English sub-titles (00:14:04 minutes long); Jackie Chan Music Video (theme song to LITTLE BIG SOLDIER, with English sub-titles); and trailers for LITTLE BIG SOLDIER.
This is a Fantastic Movie!!! I am not just saying this because i'm a massive, Jackie & Hong Kong Action Fan, but i'm saying it because of the Plot. As iv already said i'm a huge Fan of Hong Kong Action, especially the early Shaw Brothers productions, and also the early Golden Harvest Productions. When you have seen as many Asian Action Movies, from way back to present day as i have, then you have pretty much seen all the Stunts & Kung Fu Styles of the Movie World! So nothing is new anymore. I am not trying to say that the Genre is Dead, far from it!!! But no matter how entertaining the Movie may be, it has been done before, regarding Action, Stunts and Fighting. This Movie however has so much Depth and Meaning in it! If you can look past the Basic Plot and Action, to look a little deeper, there is so much Philosophy in this Movie i.e Meaning of ones Life, Choices we make, How paths cross, What is real Status or Achievement, Morals, the Worth of things and the path we Tread in this Life! I could go on and on with this. The Movie has a definite Beauty and Depth, so anyone who takes a interest in Eastern Philosophy such as Zen Buddhism, Buddhism or Taoism will see a lot here, below the surface of this Movie. This alone sets it out as a special Movie to me, and a definite one of a kind for a Jackie Movie!!! It is easily my favorite of his Post 80's Movies to date. This Movie for the Plot and Depth alone, was a real Joy to Watch! And trowing Jackie with his Action and Humor in to boot, was a stroke of Genius. This is one of the finest Asian Action Movies ever, yet surprisingly not at all for the Action, even though it was Jackie at his Best at points!!!! Fantastic work Mr Chan, i Love it!!!
Based on an idea from Jackie Chan himself and relating to the formation of China as a nation in 221BC this is a really good film about a hapless soldier and a formidable warrior that form an unlikely alliance following a massacre of soldiers from opposing armies. The film is let down slightly by confusing dream sequences and the introduction of a weird dancing girl into the storyline for no apparent reason, Jackie plays the ignorant foot soldier to a tee though and although it is unusual to see Jackie so useless in many of the fight scenes i would recommend this film to martial arts fans.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on November 11, 2011
I was introduced to Jackie Chan movies long before he made it big in Hollywood and will always love those classics of his from the 70s and 80s, like Drunken Master and Police Story. That's not to say that he wasn't good in his recent Hollywood outings - he still shames all of his co-stars with his impeccable comic timing - but the films just felt empty some how.
Little Big Soldier, though, is simultaneously a hark back to his roots whilst being a standing proof of Jackie's evolution as an actor (yes, he's actually acting now, instead of gurning inbetween the stunts and fight scenes). The other reviews will give you a competent enough synopsis of the plot, but I want to say that this movie both exceeded and defied my expectations. Jackie may have slowed down a bit and isn't doing those massive set-piece stunts that we know and love, but he still retains that unbeatable imagination for choreography and physical comedy and has learned to temper it with some genuine pathos.
The film pulls you from laughing to crying and back to laughing again so quickly that you feel like you're being tossed and turned about in one of the fights yourself. You may even end up crying by the end, but nevertheless recommend it to your friends and family as still being a comedy. Truth be told, it's both a comedy and a tradegy - but your opinion on which it is entirely depends on your outlook on life, movies and Jackie Chan. Buy it, watch it, love it!