“Just remember what ol’ Jack Burton does when the earth quakes, and the poison arrows fall from the sky, and the pillars of Heaven shake. Yeah, Jack Burton just looks that big ol’ storm right square in the eye and he says, give me your best shot, pal. I can take it.”
How did John Carpenter and Kurt Russell find each other? As revered and loved as Carpenter and his filmography are now, he spent most of the 80s making B-grade flops that had to wait for VHS and cable TV to become cult favourites. Russell was a dude with action star looks and charisma that for some reason never really cracked the action movie A-list. But put these two dudes together, and you get some of the best, tongue in cheek action fun the 80s had to offer. Tongue in cheek action fun like Big Trouble in Little China.
After a long day hauling freight in his semi trailer, Jack Burton (Russell) settles in for a night of back room gambling in Little China. When his last big bet results in a big win from Wang Chi (Dennis Dun) that he can’t afford to settle, Jack insists on sticking with Wang until he can pay up. Which includes a trip to the airport where Wang Chi is collecting his fiancé after finally saving up enough money for her to come to America from China. They arrive just in time to see her kidnapped by a Chinese street gang.
Back in Little China on the search for the kidnapped girl, Wang and Jack witness two Chinese street gangs in a brawl that only ends when three mystical warriors turn it into a massacre. This is when Jack first sees the mystical Lo Pan (James Hong). After a narrow escape, Jack and Wang retreat to a safe house where they meet Gracie Law (Kim Cattrall), who is also trying to find a girl kidnapped by the same gang. It turns out that Jack has stumbled across an ancient war that has been raging for centuries, and that the kidnapped girls may be the key to Lo Pan’s plans.
When the inevitable fight scenes kick in, this isn’t Crouching Tiger level wire work. And when the special effects appear, they’re OK for 1986, but a little clunky in places. And when they snappy dialogue flies, it’s more crackle than snap. The impressive part is, John Carpenter made Big Trouble in Little China the kind of movie where all of this stuff is exactly what is required. Add to that Russell at has smirking, cocky best, and it really is some of the best, tongue in cheek action fun the 80s had to offer.
Big Trouble in Little China
Directed By – John Carpenter
Written By – Gary Goldman, David Z. Weinstein