Tuesday, February 09, 2010

LITTLE BIG SOLDIER - Jackie's Forte

LITTLE BIG SOLDIER (war 'dramedy')
Cast: Jackie Chan, Wang LeeHom, Steven Yoo and Xiao Dong Mei
Director: Sheng Ding
Screenplay: Jackie Chan
Time: 92 mins
Rating: * * * (out of 4)


PREAMBLE: Little Big Soldier is actually an odd-couple road movie 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 farcical comedies like The Spy Next Door, I may add.

WHAT IS IT ABOUT? 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.

HITS & MISSES: 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 animals, sparrows and the environment. He throws in lots of slapstick and sometimes the comedy borders on the ridiculous.

Still, these are forgiveable 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.

THE LOWDOWN: A fitting entertainment for the Chinese New Year season.

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