Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Interesting Article/Review on Little Big Soldier

(“山下土肥呦,地呀地五亩啊,五亩良田呦种点啥……鸡肥鹅肥呦,牛呀牛羊壮啊,种豆种稻呦,油菜花!”
  原来小人物的梦想,就是“开心农场+开心牧场”)
  
  
   一
  
  有狐绥绥,在彼淇梁。心之忧矣,之子无裳。
  有狐绥绥,在彼淇厉。心之忧矣,之子无带。
  有狐绥绥,在彼淇侧。心之忧矣,之子无服。
  
  在成龙的电影里听到《诗经》,惊诧度不亚于在张艺谋的电影里看到了二人转。那场戏,我不知道有多少朋友看懂了,因为它复杂地就像余则成的眼神。梁兵(成龙)俘虏了卫太子(王力宏),押着他到一处废弃民居,遇到一个流浪歌姬(林鹏)。歌姬下了药汤,并解衣歌舞助兴,唱的正是这首《诗经?卫风?有狐》。那场戏不长,在剧情上似乎可有可无,但细究起来很有意思:
  
  ●歌姬下药汤,原意是想迷翻梁兵,因为梁兵戴着卫太子的将盔,而歌姬的亲人都死于卫太子的连年征战;她选唱《卫风》,也是以为梁兵是卫将。
  ●这首《有狐》,是女向男求爱的情歌,说良人虽贫无衣裤,但自己仍然爱他。当时梁兵正是衣衫褴褛,此曲正是十分应景的挑逗;而同时也是质询:为什么你是卫将,却穿乞丐装?可惜对牛弹琴,梁兵哪里懂得这些?
  ●梁兵听不懂的,卫太子却听得懂。他认定歌姬是卫人,所以当歌姬捧汤近前时,低声向她求救。歌姬本意就是想救他,但见他此举,却说:“这汤本来不想给你喝的。”于是灌他喝汤。
  ●可能由于对两人身份琢磨不透,所以歌姬没有加害他们,只是在卫太子耳边说了句“报应”。这两个字,最后才由卫太子道出,辉映着挂在许愿树上的“太平”。而“报应”就是,怕死的梁兵以身殉国,而不怕死的卫太子,却投降秦国。
  
  (另一说,《有狐》是妻子怀念久役不归的丈夫。歌姬在许愿树山崖再唱此曲,应是此意,借以呼应和平的主题。故而前者妖冶,后者超然出尘。)
  
  
   二
  
  不仅如此,这部“成龙电影”竟向刚去世的塞林格致敬,这比成龙大哥上百家讲坛讲《诗经》,更让我惊诧。尤其是那场梦境:梁兵在跟麦田一样黄澄澄的油菜花地里,喜悦地奔跑,突然油菜花丛中,闪出他曾救过的小乞丐,拿箭指着他,将他射倒……那个小乞丐是片中象征意味很浓的符号,出现了好几次,有兴趣的朋友不妨留意一下。我想成龙大哥借用麦田意象,是想和霍尔顿一样发出“救救孩子”的呼声,毕竟“爱护和平,从娃娃抓起”,成龙大哥甘当“油菜花田守望者”。
  
  除了油菜花田、小乞丐,电影里符号性的东西还很多,有考据癖的朋友,不妨探讨一下其中的深意。比如:
  ●旗
  影片由护旗而始、护旗而终。卫军遭梁军伏击,卫太子拼死保护卫旗不倒,却被装死的梁兵偷袭,成了俘虏,故事由此展开。而故事最后,梁兵回到梁国,却发现梁国已灭,原本贪生怕死的他,为护最后一杆梁旗不倒,被乱箭射死。
  
  ●我爹说
  本片中出现频次最高的台词。作为极为重要的隐藏人物,“我爹”能说、能画、能写:说话像赵本山,满嘴跑的都是“老鹰小鸡,放在锅里都是肉”之类,期待有过耳不忘的朋友,整出“我爹”语录;能画地图,其实这地图本身作用不大,关键为亮出背后“我爹”的书法:太平(在那个时代能写字的,可不是一般人)。
  
  ●挺好的
  本片出现频次第二高的台词,“我爹”的口头禅,其核心思想是“只要活着,挺好的”的乱世生存哲学。在“我爹”光辉思想的忽悠下,一心想重建大国荣耀的卫太子,不战而降秦国。
  
  ●小人物
  又一高频台词,卫太子的口头禅,但说得多了,让人感觉有点生硬,成了强贴的标签,就为了告诉大家:大哥这次真的只是一个“小人物”哦。
  故事的结局还揭示这样一个道理:小人物干大人物的事,只能自取灭亡;而大人物有小人物的胸怀,却能泽被苍生。
  
  ●五亩田
  梁兵俘虏卫太子,是为了回国换五亩田,种油菜花,过上“农妇、山泉、有点田”的幸福生活。
  其实,当时的100亩只相当于如今的29.07亩。也就是说,那么帅的卫太子,只能换1.45亩的田;原来小人物的梦想,就是想有块“开心农场”。
  
  在一部电影里,安插这么多符号性的东西,成龙大哥是在不断提醒人们注意他的改变:成龙的电影,也开始有深度了。尽管这个“深度”,早在《英雄》、《墨攻》、《麦田》就被别人探底了,但成龙大哥还是找到了一个不错的视角,发掘了一个不错的“新人”(王力宏),加上成龙电影一贯的打斗、搞笑元素,即使抛开那些符号、深度,也是今年最值得一看的贺岁片。
  
   三
  
  看电影,最怕孩子多。今年的贺岁档,竟撞上了三次“小鬼当家”:《喜羊羊和灰太狼》自不必说,另两部则是成龙的《邻家特工》和《大兵小将》。或许在小朋友眼里,成龙大哥就跟灰太狼一样可爱吧。只是《邻家特工》里,56岁“灰太狼”的插科打诨,多少让我有点心酸。
  我常常将成龙的电影混淆,因为每部电影是那么相似,成龙老是那个成龙。所以,我对成龙大哥这次的励精图治,先给以3颗星的支持。
  1颗星给片中的两位佳丽:林鹏和新七小福中的徐冬梅。林鹏的两段歌舞很惊艳,但在剧情上,似乎可有可无。徐冬梅演的是蛮族女将,因此除了哼哼哈哈就没像样的台词,但扮相充满野性美,很让人心痒痒。
  还有1颗星,要给王力宏。作为歌坛天王,王力宏在电影上的表现却乏善可陈,惨到要去拍三级片《色戒》。但这次他演的卫太子,不着华服,却气质雍容、从容淡定,“龙-王组合”也配合默契,34岁的王力宏,总算被成龙大哥领上道了。
  
   四
  
  本片的背景设定在战国末期,卫、梁交战。这有悖历史常识。因为,春秋战国800年,卫国一直很弱小,几次被灭,都是在别国帮助下复国。正是因为它实在太弱,秦始皇后来都懒得灭他,一直到秦二世废掉卫君角(就是片中的卫太子),卫才算正式亡国,这时距秦朝统一天下已经12年了。像卫国这样弱得不能再弱的国家,要说它有称雄天下的野心,真是扯淡了。而当时的梁国,指的是战国七雄中的魏国(因定都大梁,别称梁国),不知比卫国要强大多少倍。
  
  当然,对于这样一部好看的电影,这点硬伤只能算是吹毛求疵。



Source: WXRB.COM

Translation: MUCH MUCH THANKS TO DACREJAMES - explanatory comments have been added in red at various points.  

Little Big Soldier:Promotes the "Book of Songs", Pays a Tribute to Salinger

    (Under the mountain, the soil is fertilized on five acres of land. What should I grow on five acres of land? The chickens are fat, gooses are fat, cows and goats are strong. Plant beans, plant paddies, canola flowers! - Indeed, the dream of an insignificant figure is to have a peaceful farmland and peaceful ranch.)

One

    A fox lopes slowly, on the stone bank of the Qi River.
    My heart is worried, that you don't have warm clothes.

    A fox lopes slowly, by the river ford.
    My heart is worried, that you don't have a belt.

    A fox lopes slowly, on the other side of the river.
    My heart is worried, that you don't have a new coat.

    (This is a poem from the "Book of Songs". A fox refers to a man.)


Hearing the "Book of Songs" in a Jackie Chan film is no less amazing than seeing a song and dance duet in a Zhang Yi Mou film. I don't know how many people actually understood that scene because it is as complicated as the look in Yu Ce Cheng's eyes (he is a character in a Chinese drama series called "Lurk" who is somewhat based on a true historic figure working for the KMT Military Council)After the Liang soldier (Jackie Chan) captured the Wei prince (Lee Hom Wang), they met a wandering female singer (Lin Peng) on the journey back to the Liang state. In a scene, she left poison on their food, loosened her clothes and sang "There's a Fox". That scene wasn't long and wasn't necessary to the plot but it carried a lot of meaning:

  • The reason for poisoning and causing harm to the Liang soldier was because her kin died during battle and she thought he was the Wei prince because he wore the Wei prince's helmet. 

  • The poem "There's a Fox" is generally a love poem about a woman courting a man. It talks about how one can love the other despite the other being poor and having nothing to wear. This poem was suitable for flirting in the scene because the Liang soldier was dressed shabbily and at the same time, the poem asked an indirect question: "Why are you dressed like a beggar although you are the Wei prince?" Unfortunately, he couldn't have answered because how would he have known these things?
     
  • Although the Liang soldier did not understand, the Wei prince did. But he thought the singer was someone from the Wei state so when she came towards him to give him the soup, he whispered to her for help. The singer's initial plan was indeed to help him (The one that the singer wanted to harm was the Wei prince, not the Liang soldier. But since she thought the Liang soldier was the Wei prince, OBVIOUSLY she thought the Wei prince was the Liang soldier! So no harm in helping the "Liang soldier"!) but, for some reason, she said, "I wasn't going to make you drink this at first." and then she made him drink the soup.

  • Maybe it was because she wasn't sure of their identities but she didn't harm them further. She merely whispered the word "retribution" in the real Wei prince's ear (whom she thought was the Liang soldier). And this word was only revealed by the real Wei prince at the end to echo the glory of the word "peace" that was hung on the wishing tree. That "retribution" was: The Liang soldier sacrificed his life for his state in the end but the brave Wei prince surrendered to the Qin state.

  • (Another interpretation of "There's a Fox" is "a wife longing for her husband who has gone away for a long time". I guess when the singer sung that poem again under the wishing tree, she was trying to implicate "peace" - to become a better person from her flirtatious self.)

Two

This Jackie Chan film is a tribute to the late J.D. Salinger, which surprises me more than him talking about the "Book of Songs" on "Bai Jia Jiang Yun" (a Chinese show). Especially in this dream scene: "The Liang soldier was running happily on a land full of canola flowers when suddenly he sees a young beggar whom he once saved aiming and shooting an arrow at him." That young beggar is a symbol that signifies something very strong in the film. He appeared a number of times so if you are interested, watch out for that. I guess Jackie Chan wanted to use that "field" scene because he wanted to convey a "save the children" message like Holden. Because he loves peace, he was willing to be a canola flower field watchman (like Holden's Catcher in the Rye).

Besides canola flowers and the young beggar, there are lot of other things that symbolized something in the film. Those who have a liking towards information, you may check up on the following:

    Flag
    • The film begun with a raised flag and ended with a raised flag. At the beginning of the film, the Wei army was ambushed by the Liang army. In order to protect the Wei flag, the Wei prince fought hard with his life, only to encounter a sneak attack by a Liang soldier, who pretended to be dead, and end up as a captive. Yet at the end of the story, when the Liang soldier returned to his state and realised it had already been defeated, he, who initially was a coward and was afraid to die, died protecting his state's last flag.

    "My Father Said"
    • This was the most frequently used line in the film. And this "father" is an important "hidden" character. The line, "My father speaks well, draws well and writes well." is like a line said by Zhao Ben Shan (a Chinese skit and sitcom actor)who frequently quotes his father. In the film, the father has the ability to draw maps. But what's important isn't the map itself but the word the father wrote behind it: Peace (In that era, those who can write were not your average person).

    "How Marvelous"
    • This was the second most frequently used line in the film. It's the Liang soldier's catchphrase. In his heart, he felt: "As long as you live, all will be well because troubled times will always pass." It's like the Wei prince who wanted glory for his state but who decided against war in the end and surrendered to the Qin state.

    "Insignificant Figure"
    • Another greatly used line. The Wei prince's catchphrase. Because it was used too many times, it gave people the feeling that the phrase was rather stiff and rigid. It became a strong tag (on the Liang soldier) for the purpose of telling everyone that: Jackie Chan really is a little insignificant figure in this film. But in the film, there is another meaning to this phrase: When a small figure does the work of a big figure, he will only bring harm to himself. But when a big figure possesses the tolerance of a small figure, great things can be achieved.

    Five Acres of Land
    • The Liang soldier captured the Wei prince for the reason that, in return, he wanted five acres of land to plant canola flowers, marry a wife and have a bit of land to lead a happy life. Actually, 100 acres at that time is like 29.07 acres today which means he would have gotten a mere 1.45 acres of land in exchange for the captured Wei prince. But that is his dream - to have a peaceful piece of farmland.

    To have so many things symbolizing different things in a film, Jackie Chan continually reminds us of his change: That Jackie Chan films are getting deeper. But despite having its depth, films like "Hero", "A Battle of Wits" and "Wheat" have already touched on topics like these. Still, Jackie Chan was able to find a different perspective and also discover a rather good newbie (Lee Hom Wang). Together with the film's action scenes and funny elements, the film would still have been the most worth-watching new year film even without the symbols or its depth.


Three

When you go and watch a film, you're always afraid there will be a lot of children. On the list of new year films this year, there are already three films that are suitable for children to watch: "Pleasant Goat and the Big Big Wolf", and two Jackie Chan films, "The Spy next Door" and "Little Big Soldier". Maybe in the eyes of children, Jackie Chan is as adorable as the grey wolf. But in "The Spy Next Door", this 56-year-old "grey wolf's" comical parts had me feeling a little heartache.
  • I always get his films mixed up because every film is so similar. Jackie Chan is always just Jackie Chan. So, just for his effort in making the country more peaceful, I'll give the film three stars this time:


One star is for the two beauties in the film: Lin Peng and Lucky 7's Xu Dong Mei. Lin Peng's two routines of song and dance were breath-taking but might not have been necessary for the film. As for Xu Dong Mei, because she acted as a barbaric female leader, she had no proper dialogue except for a lot of "hems and haws". But her appearance gave off a sense of wild beauty which many would admire.

Another star is for Lee Hom Wang. He is a "king" in the musical world but has nothing to show for in term of film achievements. He even had to act in an x-rated film like "Lust, Caution". But acting as the Wei prince this time round with no glamourous clothing, his charm was still magnificent and he acted as a very calm and indifferent person. There was also chemistry between Jackie Chan and Lee Hom Wang. Finally, 34-year-old Lee Hom Wang is led on the right path by Jackie Chan.

Four

The film's story is timed near the end of the Warring States period, with Wei and Liang at war. The story contradicts historical facts because during the Warring States period, Wei state was such a weak state, it got defeated a number of times. It was always other states who helped restore the state. Because it was so weak, Qin Shi Huang did not bother to destroy it. It was only later when the second emperor of Qin abdicated the Wei ruler (that's the Wei prince in the film), that it was considered officially destroyed. This was already twelve years after the rise of Qin dynasty (In the film, the rise of Qin dynasty either happened when the Wei prince was not yet the ruler or happened at the same time when he became a ruler. It wasn't clearly shown). For a weak state like Wei, it would be totally nonsensical to say that it had the ambition to rule the world. As for the Liang state, it is historically the Wei Kingdom (this is a different "Wei" from Wei state) , one of the seven strongest states during the Warring States period. It was a kingdom stronger than Wei state by a thousand fold. In this film, it is called "Liang" because the capital of Wei Kingdom at that time was called "Da Liang".

Of course, for a good film like this, to complain about such a small defect is to be hypercritical.



Some information on the reference to J.D. Salinger:

J.D. Salinger - Catcher in the Rye WIKIPEDIA


The relevant quote/thought from the book is this:

Mr. Antolini tells Holden that it is the stronger man who lives humbly, rather than dies nobly, for a cause.


The comparative scene to the canola field scene is this:

Holden (the main character) shares a fantasy he has been thinking about (based on a mishearing of Robert Burns' Comin' Through the Rye): he pictures himself as the sole guardian of numerous children running and playing in a huge rye field on the edge of a cliff. His job is to catch the children if they wander close to the brink; to be a "catcher in the rye".


I must point out that I don't believe one can take the comparison further than just a superficial level as the book and in particular the entire symbolism of the scene from the book is entirely different from what I understand the scene in the movie to convey. Superficially the desire to 'save the children' is the only parallel I can see. Although I have not seen the movie yet but I do not believe that the deeper themes of the book can possibly apply to the movie.

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