In case anyone was wondering if Jackie Chan was going to slip into the gray area of retired action heroes and never be heard from again — or worse yet, be seen only in an increasingly embarrassing array of “over-the-hill-hero” types — then wonder no more. 2010 brought the film that many critics (people who really know how great Jackie Chan and his film library are, and how much more than an kung fu hero he is!) are raving about:
“Now [Jackie Chan]’s finally made a movie that stands proudly alongside his greatest films. A movie that any Jackie Chan fan can show to an unbeliever and say, ‘There! That’s why this man is great.’ It’s his best film since 1994’s Drunken Master II, and it sees him finally come to terms with his place in the Chinese film industry, his aging body, his legacy as an action star and even China’s place in the world…. There have always been better martial artists, better stuntmen and better daredevils than Jackie Chan, but what makes him great is his timing and his mastery of physical comedy and here they’re both in full effect. He abandons massive stunts for down-to-earth, small-scale acrobatics and, unable to rely on the spectacle of risking his life to wow the audience, he’s found greatness again. In a dizzying display of self-awareness, Jackie has made a movie whose message is ‘Change, or die.’ Fortunately, for his fans, Little Big Soldier represents the joyous fact that at 56 years old, Jackie has chosen ‘change’.” (New York Asian Film Festival)
“Chan’s achieved some recent multiplex redemption instructing Jaden Smith in the ways of kung fu and honorable living in The Karate Kid, but it’s his other new film, the China/Hong Kong coproduction Little Big Soldier, that showcases he’s absolutely capable of carrying a movie on the strength of his beaming, unpretentious charisma. (And, okay, occasional and more restrained feats of acrobatics.) Chan’s never going to be the most nuanced of actors, but he can be an immensely engaging leading man, capitalizing on that almost silent comedy-inspired charm he’s made his own.” (Allison Willmore, IFC: The Independent Eye)
“It is a delight to witness Mr. Chan in full flight. Rarely do we see this side of Jackie and somehow we never doubted at the back of our mind. Whereas, Chan usually plays one-dimensional characters as a cop, spy, agent, cop and cop. Chan is given a character and by the end of the movie, I felt that Chan had succeeded in bringing the character of the old soldier back to life. This is not an understatement, but rather a real sense of achievement …. There are moments in the film, where the audience laughs with Chan, escape with Chan, and ultimately feel for Chan. Now that’s something is that unheard of and missing for the last 40 years of this great man’s career!” (HKNFO Reviews)
Good luck on finding anywhere to see this in America, short of a few forward-thinking film festivals. If you’re willing to invest the price of a cinema ticket, you can own the film direct from Hong Kong. $7 buys it until 7 December 2010 (after that it reverts to original price) from HK Flix.