Little Big Soldier

Little Big Soldier, written and directed by Mainland director Ding Sheng from a story by Jackie Chan, is bookended by two Jet Li movies. It begins, as Li did in The Warlords, with Chan emerging from an ocean of corpses at an ancient battlefield, and concludes, as in Hero, with an anti-war finale that seems to suggest Emperor Qin Shi Huang was the best thing to have ever happened to China. In between, Chan plays a deserted Liang soldier towards the end of the Warring States Period, who lives on not so much with the actor’s usual combat skills, but more with his meticulous expertise in faking death – a recurrent source of this road movie’s biggest laughs.
As Chan’s soldier takes captive an injured Wei general (played by Wang Leehom), intending to bring him back for the reward of a humble piece of farmland, Little Big Soldier reveals its small but rather pleasing comedic touches through a journey populated by hostile peasants, nomadic bandits, and a sneaky squad of bodyguards headed by a Wei prince (Korean pop star Steve Yoo). Chan may be leading a double life these days (his latest Hollywood cacophony, The Spy Next Door, is bound to make Vin Diesel and The Rock blush in unison); and it’s a blessing for our cinema that he is reserving his most sincere attempts at acting on this shore. To his credit, Little Big Soldier is actually funnier than its blooper reel. Imagine that.
Edmund Lee
Dir Ding Sheng, Category IIB, 96 mins, opens Thursday 25


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