Release date: July 2, 1986
Directed by: John Carpenter
Starring: Kurt Russell, Kim Cattrall, Dennis Dun, James Hong
Budget: $19-25 million
Box office: $11.1 million
A trucker helps rescue his friend’s fiancée from mysterious forces.
Big Trouble in Little China is a tour de force of wonderful insanity combining with interesting characterization to present audiences with a highly entertaining love letter to the older B movies it succeeds. Not once in the entire film does the craziness Jack Burton finds himself in let up. Instead it keeps building on all the crazy aspects which came in prior scenes and ends up culminating in a climax filled with exactly the right amount of absurd chaos and satisfying plot developments. Every single moment in this film, as a result, is nothing but a fun, wild ride into the mystical depths of Chinatown.
The film is also fascinatingly told through the eyes of not the protagonist, but his sidekick. Burton happens to be a truck driver who enjoys spouting off bizarre wisdom through his CB radio as he’s driving and is thrust in this adventure by way of tagging along with his friend Wang and joins his side when plans go sideways. He may consider himself the hero of the story and might just well be the hero of his own, but numerous times the film shows him out of his element trying to grasp just what’s happening in the unknown world around him while Wang and the others he’s with act more competently using their knowledge of the setting. He’s consistently the butt of most jokes and is constantly incapacitated as well. This factor only helps the film, giving the audience someone to project on as they and Burton navigate the otherworldly Chinatown for the first time.
Lo Pan is the perfect villain for such an entertainingly weird film, too. He is described by several characters in vague terms and those accounts usually contradict each other. Nevertheless, when the film does formally introduce him, he adds to the crypticness by stating he is basically not something Burton is able to understand. His plan makes sense for an ancient sorcerer bent on an immortal reign as an evil ruler and it’s incredibly obvious that Hong enjoyed every moment of this role. Every time Lo Pan is on screen, Hong does nothing but chew the scenery to create such an over the top, memorable antagonist.
This is definitely a film everyone needs to see at least once in their lives.
Urban Action Showcase and Expo Awards
Martial Arts Cult Classic Cinemas Award
Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films, USA - Saturn Awards