Fresh from his folley as the fumbling spy next door, Hong Kong star Jackie Chan stars in a new outing and does superbly well even without his signature stunts, flying kicks and somersaults.
After the disastrous 'Spy Next Door', it is a welcome sight to see Jackie Chan in a proper big-budgeted flick. Just like James Cameron's 'Avatar', action comedy Little Big Soldier is a tale that took Jackie Chan many years (20 precisely) to finally put to production. But instead of bringing us to the far future, he takes us on a journey to ancient times, at a time where the various states of China were at war for power and control.
Jackie plays an unnamed soldier from the Liang state, which are at war with the Wei state. A massive ambush results around 2,000 casualties on both sides, leaving him and a young Wei general (Wang LeeHom) as the only survivors. He takes the general captive and heads back to Liang hoping for a big plot of land and ultimately, exemption from the army. Obviously the two do not get along well and get stuck in a range of tight situations. Facing many obstacles from enemies to nature, the two eventually develop some form of respect for one another. This is done really well as it doesn't feel forced or unnatural.
Jackie does a great job playing the opportunistic deserter who is armed with packets of blood and a spring-loaded arrow on his armor; anything to avoid actual conflict. LeeHom surprises with his role too, playing a dignified general who has seen many wars and is generally unimpressed with the deserter's cheap tactics. Along their adventure-filled journey the captor and the captive gained respect for one-another. The two share great chemistry and it's not hard to like them.
Those looking forward to Jackie's martial art moves might be disappointed as he is showing his age and wisely opts to reduce it to funny gags, leaving the fighting to those who can do it with full energy. Another thing to point out is the cinematography for this movie, which is just spellbinding. From the mountains to the forest, this US$25million film uses the best scenery, ensuring everything appears as realistic and authentic as possible. They also went to great lengths with the cool-looking costumes.
Little Big Soldier might possibly be one of Jackie's better films of late, and is an entertaining overall package that should surprise many who have absorbed many of his numerous Hollywood films of late.
PS: As always, stick around for the credits to watch his usual trademark out-takes!