Luckily, I did like it. You thought I was going to say something different, didn’t you? Just keeping you on your toes. So why did I like it? Well, because it’s Jackie doing what he does best; fighting people, pulling stupid faces, and not being in Hollywood. From the off, it’s clear the film’s a comedy, as we’re introduced to Jackie’s lone survivor of a fierce battle. As he dusts himself off, we notice that there’s an arrow skewered right through his middle, but he seems fine – a puzzle which is quickly unravelled as it’s revealed as a spring loaded fake. Jackie’s up to his old tricks again. What is he like eh? He’s a card!
Then, almost straight away we’re given a quick fight scene ( a good one, too), before the film sets off on its journey, or rather, Jackie’s journey, as he transports Leehom Wang’s injured general across the country to his state in search of a reward. Oh and he fights some people too.
Now, we all know Jackie’s getting on, so how do his action scenes in this compare to his previous work? Now, they’re obviously not nearly as good as his early stuff, but they’re still pretty darn good – if a little fight-lite. By that I mean he doesn’t actually do that much fighting, it’s mostly a case of jumping around the place and throwing stones at people’s heads – which is fine. It’s fine because he does spring into action in a few places, and when he does, it’s Chantastic (sorry) – just don’t expect any real martial arts popping up. Still, if you’re a bit disappointed with the lack of Jackie action, you’ve always got Wang Leehom (in only his ninth feature film role) to fill in the cracks.
I’ve always liked Wang, mainly because he was one of the best things in the otherwise poo-poo AVENGING FIST, and I also enjoyed him in CHINA STRIKE FORCE (Shhhhh, I actually quite like that film). Here, he’s centre stage throughout, playing off Jackie with an amiable charisma that assists the believable chemistry between the two frenemies. He deals with all his material professionally, and is never unconvincing – which is all the more impressive considering he’s still a pop-star first, actor second.
He’s also quite good at fighting. He’s proved he’s no slouch in the action department before, so it’s no surprise that he’s just as good in this role, one which requires him to play a skillful fighter. He’s entirely believable and his numerous scraps with various opponents are rather well-done – they’re mostly sword fights, but they’re impressive all the same. As are the rest of the fights, although unfortunately they never really get into full swing, they’re all too short, particularly the two which had the greatest potential. The first is when Yu Rongguang turns up – now this could have been an awesome fight between two legends, but instead the opportunity is completely missed and there’s no fight scene worth watching. The second comes when the Prince’s guard and a nutty woman with a whip face-off – they’ve both been built up as impressive fighters, so you assume a showdown between the two will be suitable spectacular. Silly you though, because it only lasts about 30 seconds – ultra let-down.
Apart from the lack of fight scenes, and a completely unnecessary sub plot with a singer/prostitute that adds nothing to the film whatsoever, LITTLE BIG SOLDIER is a success the majority of the time. Which is nice, because you know, I like Jackie Chan. It’s nice to like his films too. Not the case with RUSH HOUR 3, but we’ll let him off. This was good. Well done Jackie.
LITTLE BIG SOLDIER is out on 2-disc Region 2 DVD from Cine-Asia on 8th November.REVIEW: Little Big Soldier (2010),
Cine Asia • Jackie Chan • Little Big Soldier (2010) • Wang Leehom • Yu Rongguang