Dragon Blade (2015)

DragonBlade+2015-1-bDragon Blade [天降雄獅] (2015)

Starring Jackie Chan, John Cusack, Adrien Brody, Choi Si-Won, Lin Peng, Mika Wang, Xiao Yang, Wang Tai-Li, Jozef Waite, Sammy Hung, William Feng, Sharni Vinson, Lorie Pester, Karena Lam, Steve Yoo Seung-Jun

Directed by Daniel Lee

Expectations: I don’t know, honestly. Not much. I am excited, if that counts for anything!

twohalfstar


Dragon Blade is very entertaining, but there’s no denying that it just isn’t that good. Given the amount of “jank” in the movie, those two-and-a-half stars up top are fairly generous of me, but I’m such a huge Jackie Chan fan that I was easily able to overlook a lot of the film’s issues. I don’t think others will be nearly as kind, although fans of both Jackie Chan and B-Movies might be able to transcend and enjoy the film as I did. That’s not something I expected to say about the highest-budget Chinese film of all time, but even the most expensive rose-colored glasses on Earth couldn’t obscure just how laughable and ludicrous some of this movie is.

Don’t believe me? I’ll give you three guesses of what the first on-screen image is in this historical epic supposedly based on true events. OK? Go! … … … Nope, nope, and nope. The correct answer is a satellite orbiting the Earth! WHA? So instead of finding out that the movie is weird a few minutes in, they smack you in the face with it immediately. This is arguably the best way to go into Dragon Blade, as this is merely the first moment you’ll watch with a quizzical look on your face.

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Little Big Soldier (2010)

Little Big Soldier [大兵小將] (2010)
AKA Big Soldier, Little General, Junior Soldiers, The Big Soldier

Starring Jackie Chan, Wang Lee-Hom, Steve Yoo Seung-Jun, Lin Peng, Do Yuk-Ming, Ken Lo, Yu Rong-Guang, Jin Song, Xu Dong-Mei, Wu Yue, Wang Bao-Qiang, Niu Ben

Directed by Ding Sheng

Expectations: Low. Late-period Jackie Chan isn’t usually all that great.


Little Big Soldier has been a film close to Jackie Chan’s heart for roughly twenty years. It languished in development hell since the late 80s for some reason, probably the fact that at its core it’s not really a martial arts film. This is more of Jackie in a dramatic role than a straight action picture, although there is a lot of room for his distinct blend of action and comedy to burst forth. Who knows what might have been if this had been made when it was conceived (or what classic film we might not have), but I’m here to report that Little Big Soldier is pretty good. It’s not going to set your world on fire, nor will it become a modern-day classic Jackie film (like I’m hoping his latest Chinese Zodiac will be). It is simply a fun little road movie with flashes of excellent action and choreography.

The film opens on the aftermath of a huge battle between Liang and Wei forces. Jackie is the lone remaining Liang soldier, and while scouring the battlefield he finds that the Wei general has been wounded, but is still very much alive. The reward for the capture and return of a live enemy general is five acres of land and freedom from conscription, so Jackie ropes him up and the grand adventure home begins.

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