There was a time when it was practically mandatory to watch a Jackie Chan movie every Chinese New Year period. Then, as he ventured into “I’m-breaking-into-Hollywood” mode, we saw Chan move out of that genre that was so comfortingly familiar into works such as Rush Hour and Around The World In 80 Days. Fans will be glad to know that they get their CNY Jackie fix—he is back and is now even better, as originator, producer, executive producer, action director and star of Little Big Soldier.
This is a story about an old soldier (Chan) taking a young General (played by Wang Lee Hom) captive, hoping to exchange him for a reward which will fulfill his simple dream of becoming a farmer, in a land with no more fighting. Captor and captive are pursued by the General’s power-hungry brother (played by Korean rap star Yoo Seung-jun), and as they run, they begin to develop a reluctant respect for each other.
Movie-goers expecting full-blown war scenes will be disappointed as the story focuses on the journey of the two men. It opens during a war that’s already ended. However, the simple and quiet story-telling style gives the growing friendship credibility and draws due attention to the characters— Chan’s older war-weary optimist versus Wang’s young war veteran. That it’s set against the magnificent landscape of China is another plus.
Although fans will enjoy Chan’s signature bumbling kung fu style, the movie also displays an understated maturity not seen in other Jackie Chan movies. Particularly enjoyable is the subtle irony that Chan injects at the end of the movie. In a seamless twist, he and Wang exchanged the lines they said at the beginning of the movie—signifying that they have come a full circle in their friendship.
Definitely one of Jackie Chan’s better productions. I would rank it alongside New Police Story.