Bear with me for this review, because I watched this movie a couple of months ago and my memory isn’t what it used to be. With that said, this is one of my favorite Chinese movies. Famous actors and beautiful scenery aside, this movie is chock full of humor with a undercurrent of political themes.
Comments: Rumored to have been stuck in development hell for twenty years, Little Big Soldier is the trademark Jackie Chan movie: funny action. The movie is set during the Warring States era (before Qin’s unification of China). The battling forces of Wei and Liang are almost decimated after a bloody, brutal battle. The bromance between the prince of Wei aka Big Soldier (Wang Leehom) and the lowly Liang deserter aka Little Soldier (Jackie Chan) is the highlight of the film. As the two travel along a dusty road, they encounter nomads, peasants, and the power-seeking Prince Wen (brother to Big Soldier). Throw in some scenes with a bitter woman, some angry bulls, and a black bear.
I have to credit this movie for piquing my interest in Wang Leehom. His youthful, pretty face fit the character nicely.
For those diehard fans of Jackie Chan’s action shots, they’ll be mildly disappointed. There are few ‘serious’ action shots. Instead, we see many creative and humorous action sequences. For example, the bull chase:
Another highlight of the film is the theme song: You Cai Hua (油菜花; literal translation is canola). It conveys the simplistic happiness that the Little Soldier seeks throughout the entire movie. No power politics for him… he really just wants to go home and tend his fields. Despite Leehom’s musical talents, Jackie Chan is the one who sings the song, a wise choice on his part. As much as I love Leehom, I cannot see him conveying the depth and emotion of the song.
The movie is definitely not plot-driven. In fact, it is easily forgettable. You are left with the vague impression that the movie was about two men rolling, running, and riding down a dusty road. Random things happen to them, but the important development is that they become more understanding of each other’s roles.
The ending is bittersweet. The politics usually take a backseat to the bromance, so the ending feels like a punch to the gut. But really, given the whole premise of the movie, the end can be easily predicted. I still teared up.
For those looking for the movie, it is subbed in English on Youtube.