Little Big Soldier DVD/Blu-ray

Sunday, 14 November 2010 14:17

“Little Big Soldier” stars the indomitable Jackie Chan as a lowly soldier fighting for the honour of the Chinese territory of Liang. Set in ancient times, China is in a state of turmoil as rival provinces wage endless war against each other. This is not a war film, however, but rather an endearing, action-packed adventure featuring bold characters, stunning settings and Chan’s familiar but effortless brand of slapstick humour.

Chan’s unnamed character comes to on a dormant battlefield littered with the dead bodies of fallen soldiers. As he tries to get his bearings, he spies a wounded general stirring, and – having made sure the enemy combatant is not about to die – resolves to ferry him home to claim a sizeable bounty. They have a lot of dangerous land to cover, and this is only the beginning of the duo’s daring escapade. The core of the story centres on the evolving relationship between Chan’s peasant and the rival Wei general (Leehom Wang). Initially full of inbred hate for each other, shared adversity gradually brings them closer together and engenders a modicum of mutual respect.

Little Big Soldier arrives on DVD and Blu-rayMeanwhile, their travels take them through barren hills, sheer mountains and sun-dappled forests, and all the time they are being tracked by a group of ruthless Wei soldiers who apparently want to rescue the general. As well as stray bands of solders on both sides of the divide, they also have to evade blood-thirsty nomadic tribes who do not care where the loyalties of their prey lie!

Whilst the movie does not feature stunts of quite the same magnitude and awesomeness that Chan used to be capable of, the action remains riveting, entertaining and it is structured such that a scene never feels arbitrarily bolted on. Jackie is still pretty nimble for his advancing years, leaping up trees, hurtling down hillsides and dodging razor-sharp blades. Though wounded, the general also gets his fair share of the action, and frequently tries to escape from or kill Chan’s character in scenes typically accompanied by some amusing verbal sparring. The action is grounded in a sense of realism, and thankfully there is no obvious wirework on display to yank you suspension of disbelief.

The film pitches its tone just right, superbly balancing the hair-raising action, humour and occasional pathos. I was genuinely swept along by it, and credit has to go to director Sheng Ding, especially as this is only his second movie. It is a long time since I can recall being this invested in a buddy movie (with a twist). And, just when I thought I had a complete handle on what the film had to offer, the incredible ending smacked me squarely in the face! Talking of positives, the amazing landscapes are not bad, either; they look terrific even on DVD (the version reviewed), so one would hope the Blu-ray edition is truly something to behold. I strongly recommend you give this movie – sincerely Chan’s best in ages – serious consideration.

The extensive special features included with this release were not available at the time of the review, but they comprise: audio commentary by expert Bey Logan, trailer gallery, making-of gallery, on set report gallery, interview gallery, behind the scenes clips and a bonus standard definition digital copy of the movie that can be played on a PC. In addition, the closing credits of the film feature Jackie Chan’s customary, daft outtakes!

“Little Big Soldier” (2010) is out now on the Cine Asia label. The feature running time is 96 minutes approx, certificate ‘15’, and the movie retails for £17.99 on DVD (2 discs), £24.99 on Blu-ray (1 disc), or less from www.culttvstore.com

Last modified on Thursday, 10 May 2012 16:37

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