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Big Trouble in Little China

Part Of Rodent's 15 Review Marathon Of The 1980s Classics And Their Sequels

Review #150 (5th of 15): Big Trouble In Little China

Jack Burton is a truck driver, he's also a bit of a hustler and smart-mouth who loves himself... a lot.
When he and his friend Wang Chi go to San Francisco International Airport to pick up Wang's fiancee Miao Yin, they are attacked by a street gang and Yin is kidnapped, presumably to be sold as a sex slave.

Burton vows to help Wang find his bride to be and take on the gang... but what they discover is that Miao Yin is part of a centuries old legend of Chinese sorcery and black magic that will shake the Pillars of Heaven if evil prevails.

The ultimate 80s classic in terms of cheese, action, tongue in cheek humour and some exceptionally wooden (but knowing) acting.

John Carpenter really goes against type with his direction too. The movie is completely different to his other outings.
It also contains a very particular taste in production value, settings, humour, screenplay and the overall script and story.
If you don't get it, forget it, the movie isn't for you.

The story itself starts out pretty simple... two friends getting the girl back with some really good action and martial arts thrown in... then toward the second act it turns into an extremely imaginative fantasy full of weird creatures and some even weirder special effects and costumes.

What makes Big Trouble stand out though is exactly that... it's very disparate from one scene to the next, the viewer never really knows what coming next.
Which also adds to the mystery of what's going on in the turns of events.

Not all of the film works though, some of the legend and the history of the legend in the story is a little under-written (if that's a word). It feels quite childlike and doesn't quite have the air of what Carpenter set out for... ageless legends.

The acting though is knowingly bad. The cast seem to be almost smiling throughout while delivering their cheesey dialogue.
Kurt Russell as Burton, the muscleheaded self promoter is perfectly cast. He's funny, believeable when the going gets tough and carries the action brilliantly. Most of his humour comes from acting dumb throughout the turn of weird events.
Dennis Dun is also a perfect match for Russell. His wise young China man and unassuming stature give him a real edge against Russell and their on screen chemistry is wonderful.

Kim Catrall makes a nice show as Burton's love interest and another damsell in distress. She's at her usual for the time of filming, kind of lost and yet still sexy with it.

Back up comes from James Hong, Al Leong, Carter Wong, Peter Kwong, James Pax and the late great Victor Wong.

The action is really what it's all about though. It's loud, brightly coloured, full of excessive use of pyrotechnics and one of the main martial arts antagonists even influenced a very famous videogame God... but you'll have to watch to find out who.


Al in all, no where near being a perfect movie technically... but Trouble gives cheese, fights, highly memorable monsters and characters and some really funny scenes in bucketloads.
An 80s actioner well worth a spot in my 80s classics section, it's also one of my guilty pleasures.

My rating: 86%