There was a short scene in Jackie Chan’s Little Big Soldier that most likely the audiences missed its interpretation. A short after the Liang soldier (Jackie Chan) captured the Wei general (Wang LeeHom), they encountered a singing maiden (Lin Peng) inside an abandoned inn during their journey back to the State of Liang. In this particular scene, the singing maiden drugged their wine, loosened her clothes and sang “Fox with a New Coat of Fur” from the Book of Songs.
The Book of Songs is a compilation of three hundred and five poems by Confucius (551 – 479 BCE). The origin of these poems was written sometimes between 1100 BCE to 600 BCE which was well before Confucius era. Confucius would refer to the Book of Songs in the Analects and it was part of the curriculum of his disciples. It contained folksongs, ballads, court songs and sacrificial songs. These songs provided images of simple and beautiful life in ancient times. They painted images of how heroes and ancestors were praised, farmers sang to their crops, peasants complained about their taxes, romancing their loved ones, wars being waged and morality. The poem of “Fox with a New Coat of Fur” in particular is about a wife missing her husband who was sent to the outpost to guard the border. The poem could also be interpreted about a woman courting a man who was poor and didn’t have anything to wear. Despite all that she still loved him.
Fox with a New Coat of Fur
A fox lopes slowly, on the stone bank of the Qi River
My heart is worried, that you don’t have warm clothes
A fox lopes slowly, by the river ford
My heart is worried, that you don’t have a belt
A fox lopes slowly, on the other side of the river
My heart is worried, that you don’t have a new coat
In the scene, through her song the singing maiden indirectly asked the Liang soldier after she poisoned him why he dressed so shabbily if he were a Wei general. The Liang soldier was wearing the Wei general’s helmet and the singing maiden couldn’t tell which of the two was the real Wei general. Therefore, she poisoned both of them but she didn’t harm them further.
After the Liang soldier was impaired, the singing maiden revealed to him on how all her family members were killed due to the war. Her choice to sing “Fox with a New Coat of Fur” could also be interpreted she was longing for her loved one who was sent away to war. Afterward, she whispered to the Wei general that she wasn’t about to give him the poisoned wine. She was unsure about their circumstances, hence she didn’t release the Wei general when he asked to untie him.
It’s quite interesting that Jackie Chan had a deeply intelligent effort to have a tiny portion of The Book of Songs into his well written Little Big Soldier.