Throughout an average person’s life, they must watch hundreds of movies. There are many, many movies out there, and watching ALL of them becomes nigh on impossible when the scope of the amount of films that exist is taken into account. The movies seen by any specific person picked out of the crowd, of course, vary greatly from any other person you would pick out of a crowd, which is what makes life great – all that variety.
The point that I’m getting at here is that it seems as though I’m the only one who’s seen Big Trouble in Little China, and this needs to end now.
Big Trouble is a film my father showed me at a very young age. It was a rainy day, we were flicking through the channels and suddenly his eyes light up like Christmas. He tells me to watch, and don’t ask questions.
About 14 years on from that, I’m here before you with this notion: this is one of the greatest B-movie send-ups of our time. Of course, that means no one understood it, so it tanked, dipped under the public eye, and finally achieved minor cult success on video. But please, do yourself a favor and watch Big Trouble in Little China.
The movie started out as a Western. They modernized it, set it in San Francisco Chinatown (Little China, get it?) and threw some kung fu into the mix. The plot has to do with an evil sorcerer named Lo Pan, cursed for hundreds of years to a world between life and death. He must marry and then sacrifice a girl with green eyes to have his spirit bound to the mortal world, where he can rule…or something.
There’s a gang war, three guards of Lo Pan based on the elements of the earth that are running around causing mayhem, and everyone’s favorite wild-eyed Asian, the late Victor Wong, appears as the Chinese sorcerer Egg Shen fated to fight Lo Pan to the death. At this point you might think “what the hell is all this” and that’s just what Jack Burton (Kurt Russell) wonders, very brashly and very comically, before he gets tossed head first into the ordeal and ends up fighting to save the girl and the world…or at least downtown San Fran.
It’s directed by horror master John Carpenter, coming in after The Thing and before Prince of Darkness. Kurt Russell joins him in their second collaboration after Snake Plissken made his way into cult cinema lore in Escape from New York. As underrated as it is, it ranks among their best work, together or otherwise.
Big Trouble in Little China is a blast, an unadulterated dose of fun from start to finish.
They play the whole thing with everyone in on the joke and it works. The insane plot steeped in Chinese folklore serves as an excuse for some awesome martial arts sequences. Jack Burton: Kurt Russell turns the stereotypical heroic drifter role into something completely his own, channeling a John Wayne that is pissed off, skeptical, and very ill-equipped to handle such a fantastical situation. His plight becomes funnier with every unbelievable thing that happens to him. It’s hilarious, as are many, if not all of the one liners and quips that come from his mouth – the script is another one of the strong points.
Victor Wong is charmingly awesome Victor Wong. Dennis Dun does great work as Jack’s friend Wang hellbent on finding his fiancé, the girl Lo Pan has taken a liking to. The banter between Jack and Wang becomes akin to a dysfunctional superhero and his sidekick, although the roles may not be as clear-cut as expected. The movie rocks…
…but only if you buy into the very ‘out there’ plot. A lot of Chinese folklore is tossed around here, and it can get to be a bit much, with demons, magic, sorcery, and the many different hells; from the Hell of Being Cut to Pieces to the Hell of the Upside-Down Sinners, as they say in the movie, “the Chinese have a lot of hells.” It’s a lot to take in. Fortunately, the role of Burton works so well as an audience surrogate that part of the humor derives from you (and Jack) not knowing what the hell is going on, and how he has to deal with that.
Beer Three, Half Finished
The movie hasn’t really aged well. It has those lovingly cheesy 80’s effects that we can nostalgically say are awesome but really just… aren’t. But they are, you know it. Kim Cattrall grates more often than not as Jack’s possible love interest, but she’s very nice to look at.
Appropriately cheesy, revels in its own fun, never too serious, with a bona fide great performance by Kurt Russell… Big Trouble in Little China is a great way to kill a Saturday with some friends and some brews. A perfect MovieBoozer pick.
Two and half…wait, finish that beer.
Take a Drink: any time Jack has to clarify something.
Take a Drink: any time magic is performed or used.
Take a Drink: any time green eyes are mentioned.
Do a Shot: any time a gang war breaks out.
If you wanna get trashed: Kill Your Beer when one of the three ‘storms’ dies.