Here, Russell plays truck driver Jack Burton who becomes embroiled in a gang feud based on Chinese mysticism, whilst passing through San Francisco’s Chinatown. It is another example of those crazy films from the 1980s which are much-loved by a generation of viewers. This film has it all – comedy, sorcery, monsters and mysticism, physics-defying action fight sequences, great special effects, and a romantic narrative branch featuring a fresh-looking and stunningly green-eyed Kim Cattrall (following her successful turn as Karen Thompson in 1984’s Police Academy). This very much is a 1980s cult classic.
Russell’s performance as the wise-cracking Burton is superb, teaming up with Egg Shen (Victor Wong) he stumbles from one fight to the next in his mission to stop ancient 2000-year old magician, David Lo Pan (James Hong) from marrying his best friend’s fiancé and putting an end to a centuries-old battle between good and evil. Oh, and his beloved truck – The Pork Chop Express – which had been stolen by Lo Pan’s minions.
Along the way, Burton battles all manner of goblins, demons and the unstoppable Three Storms – all of which are ruled by Lo Pan – one suspiciously looking like Rayden from Mortal Kombat. This made me wonder more about this film’s cultural impact, as it is quite evident that Rayden was heavily influenced by the character appearing in Big Trouble in Little China. In fact, Lo Pan has an air of the character Mei Pei from Kill Bill about him. Considering that these are just two examples of post-modern reference to Carpenter’s film from 1986, it is surprising to learn that Big Trouble in Little China bombed at the box office. What Carpenter attempted to do at the time, was to create a knowingly absurd film which leans very much on the ‘actually’ absurd films making their way to the US from the Far East in the 1970s and 80s. This must have been lost on the audience at the time, as the box office performance might suggest. However, it does appear as though this film had subsequently gained in status and is now appreciated the world over. They honestly don’t make them like they used to!
I remember as a child, catching a clip on television as it was being promoted for its theatrical release. I was absolutely fascinated by this film at the sight of Lo Pan being mown down by Burton’s truck, resulting in him not only being found standing up and unharmed, but also firing beams of light out of his eyes. I remember thinking that I must see this film! A few years later, I did manage to view it, and I implore anyone who has not seen it yet, to do so urgently – and what better opportunity to watch it than by purchasing this fine blu ray release?
This limited edition Arrow Steelbook presentation includes a High Definition blu ray digital transfer with 5.1 DTS-HD, and a plethora of extras; including an audio commentary by John Carpenter and Kurt Russell, five interview pieces with various cast and crew, an extended ending, deleted scenes, a variety of trailers and TV spots and an accompanying booklet to the film.
Big Trouble in Little China is released in the UK on Blu Ray December 16th.
Review: Big Trouble in Little China
By Andreas Charalambous - 4th December 2013
What do you get when you mix kung fu-fighting street gangs battling over an evil supernatural being, a flying creature that is covered in eyeballs (including an eyeball for its tongue), monsters from another dimension and a gung-ho, bumbling, all-action all-American truck driving hero? You get cult classic Big Trouble in Little China, that’s what!!
As a fan of director John Carpenter, I feel that this film almost belongs in a category of its own as it is quite different from his others. I would best describe Big Trouble in Little China as an “action-fantasy-comedy-horror-adventure”.
Kurt Russell returns as Carpenter’s protagonist for the fourth time – following his performances as R.J MacReady in The Thing, the iconic Snake Plissken in Escape from New York, and Elvis Presley in… umm… Elvis.
Think of this as a template to the Tim Burton / Johnny Depp relationship that I’m sure most people are aware of these days!