Considered something of a box office flop upon it’s original cinema release – making just £11 million of its £25 million budget back in cinemas – Big Trouble In Little China went on to become something of a cult classic on the rapidly growing home video market. So it seems only right that it be given an all singing all dancing Blu-ray release.
Helping his buddy Wang (Dennis Dun) pick-up his girlfriend from the airport, fast-mouthed trucker Jack Burton (Kurt Russell) finds himself in the middle of a gang war in Little China, San Francisco. But this is no turf war as demon Lo Pan (James Hong) is determined to use Wang’s girlfriend as his new bride. Accompanied by lawyer Gracie (Kim Cattrall), Jack and Wang set out to rescue the girl, kill the bad guy and save the world from Lo Pan’s evil plan.
Having had success with horror, in the shape of Halloween and The Thing, and iconic action thriller Escape From New York, Big Trouble In Little China is director John Carpenter’s more lighthearted shot at an adventure fantasy. Originally written as a Western, Big Trouble is rife with wisecracking tough guys, over-the-top villains and the kind of action you reveled in during your formative years.
Sure, it’s kitsch with much of the effects looking like well placed fireworks, the monsters resembling Ludo from Labyrinth’s ugly brother and the choreography often looking laughably staged but that is as much a part of the charm of Big Trouble as anything else. It’s supposed to be tongue in cheek, the ‘80s looming large with Russell in particular sporting a clichéd mullet and vest combo.
More than anything, thanks to Russell’s endlessly watchable screen presence, Big Trouble In Little China never takes itself too seriously. It constantly seems to mock itself with self-referential dialogue all the while Russell trying to play the tough-guy when most of the time he’s quaking in his ridiculously large cowboy boots. As one character so eloquently puts it; “This is like some radical Alice In Wonderland” and the film brings with it everything that statement entails.
The only real flaw is the film’s 15 certificate. It’s the kind of film that should be accessible to a younger audience, the kind of audience who watch Ghostbusters and embrace it for more than the comedy. If nothing else Big Trouble In Little China reminds you of your childhood, full of camp villains, fun action and protagonists that were equal part clown as they were hero.
Turn your brain off and engage your inner child because Big Trouble In Little China is a brilliantly retro piece of ‘80s pomp.