Big Trouble in Little China (1986) Revisited 30 years later

Posted: July 4, 2016 in FILM REVIEWS/COMMENTS
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An everyday truck driver Jack Burton gets caught up in a centuries-old mystical battle in Chinatown and must rescue his pal’s fiancée.

Made the same year as a flurry of fantasy adventure films, including the The Golden Child, Flight of the Navigator, Howard the Duck and Labyrinth to name a few, Gary Goldman’s & David Z. Weinstein’s Big Trouble in Little China screenplay is rich and director John Carpenter unknowingly creates a rounded personification of an 80’s adventure film.

The leads are perfectly cast, a young Kim Cattrall’s delivers a defining comedy performance and Kurt Russell is perfect as the All-American beer drinking reluctant hero. A make-up enhanced James Hong is outstanding as mystical evil Lo Pan, the rest of the supporting cast are an array of familiar faces. 

Although the special effects are of their time, many of the makeup effects hold up well. Veteran cinematographer Dean Cundey’s shows all the gritty sweat of this pure piece of entertainment fun. There’s fantastically dressed sets, great costumes and neon lighting. Director Carpenter delivers outlandish set pieces, some great action scenes, magic and sword fights. It’s full of comedy moments, one-liners and dark, creepy supernatural Chinese spirits as Jack goes about rescuing the girl(s).

Big Trouble in Little China packs a lot punch for a film that didn’t do big box office bucks but it certainly found an audience on VHS. It’s a top fantasy adventure that’s production values add to Big Trouble’s charm, Carpenter’s quirky atmospheric touch ensured it could be revisited time and time again.

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