Films | LITTLE BIG SOLDIER – Movie Review

LITTLE BIG SOLDIER – Movie Review

Posted by FATEMA H.KAGALWALA on June 5, 2011 | No Comments

PRODUCER – Jackie Chan, Solon So

DIRECTOR – Sheng Ding

WRITER – Jackie Chan

CAST – Jackie Chan, Leehom Wang and Rongguang Yu

MUSIC – (imdb doesn’t say…can’t find on the net)

The Little Big Soldier is one of those films that may or may not engage deeply while viewing but remain memorable for the experience it leaves you with. In culinary terms it is called the ‘after-taste’.

The film is set in the Warring States Period of China when the divided country’s states fought for supremacy over each other with bitter rivalry and aggression. The film starts at one such battle between the armies of Liang and Wei, a bloody ambush at the end of which only two men survive. An older foot soldier from the army of Liang (Jackie Chan) and a much-younger, high-ranking general of Wei (Leehom Wang) are the only two men alive. The Soldier takes the General hostage to win rewards from his native royalty and probably exemption from military service. The film travels with them through the merciless terrain of Yunnan till the shores of battle-ravaged Liang.

The film is an action-adventure-comedy said to have been in production for about twenty years. It is a long way for a film to travel but nowhere is this fact evident as the journey of the two continues through forests and dry stony lands. The film is woven through with a strong thread of patriotism and nationalism yet keeps its tone light and fluffy through the unequal relationship between the protagonists. So Chan plays this earthy, low-brow, mild buffoon who is adept at survival using all of his faculties and Wang plays a hot-blooded General with a toughness and aggression keeping up the interest in their chemistry of opposites. The General’s people and younger brother are looking for him and the chase is as rustic and unsophisticated as the terrain. The screenplay recognises its setting and replays it in its events truthfully even using it well for drama, action and comedy.
The cinematography of this largely outdoors film is stunning with its desaturated colours almost making it look monochromatic. The visual appeal is in the portrayal of reality in the dryness and coldness that enveloped China in that troublesome period. The use of hand-held camera is extremely gripping and experiential helping the beautifully choreographed action and dramatic sequences many times over.

The film is rather slow and the comedy light. The focus of the film is more on the journey of the two than on the relationship which gives a sort of unfulfilled dryness until the end. It joins the several events that happen to the two during the travel with quirk, danger, drama and suspense. It comes together in the right tone yet does not let go of realism or emotion and makes the take-away worthwhile.  It is imaginative and authentic, even if sluggish at times. Not Chan’s best, nor his typical fare either but worth taking something back home.

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