Sunday, July 21, 2013

My Favorite Era: Big Trouble in Little China (1986)

John Carpenter has made many great horror and sci-fi films (granted since 1988 he's only had one good film but anyway) but this may be his most entertaining overall.  A wild blend of martial arts, comedy and special effects, Big Trouble in Little China was a film probably a few years ahead of its time.

Kurt Russell stars as Jack Burton, a macho trucker who is not quite as awesome as he thinks he is.  He ends up being drawn into supernatural events whilst giving his friend Wang Chi (Dennis Dun) some help and much chaos and hilarity ensues as lawyer Gracie Law (Kim Cattrall) and bus driver Egg Shen (Victor Wong join the two to fight the evil Lo Pan (James Hong).

Yes, this is a John Carpenter comedy.  Generally one doesn't think of him and humor but surprisingly, he has a pretty deft touch when it comes to fast paced, almost screwball comedy.  The dialogue scenes whiz by quickly (good thing too since there is quite a bit of exposition to get through) and the performers deliver it in their own unique way,  Russell goes for blustery bravado (it helps that he's the guy the others are explaining stuff to for the entire film), Kim Cattrall has the breathless energy of a forties starlet and Victor Wong and Dennis Dun bring a certain conviction to their lines that works fantastically.

Adding to the humor is how Jack, who would usually be the big hero, ends up being the sidekick though he doesn't realize it.  This leads to some pretty funny bits as Kurt Russell ends up being a hero by accident while Dennis Dun ends up being damn near unstoppable.

The rest of the cast is good too with James Hong coming off best with his fantastically evil Lo Pan.  He brings it all to the table with some nice bad guy speeches and one or two funny bits.  Generally this is what happens when an immortal supernatural force employs regular mortals.  I also get a laugh out of him posing as a regular human by just adding "David" to his name.

I also enjoy Victor Wong who always was good at playing crusty but brilliant badasses.   Kim Cattrall and Dennis Dun are also good.

The supernatural aspect leads to some nicely wild moments as we get wire work enhanced sword fights, some pretty neat monsters and lots of special effects from Richard Edlund.  Hell, we even get Al Leong in a small role as one of the bad guys.  It's a real great thrill ride that would have made a fortune at the box office if it had been released ten years later than it was.

Big Trouble in Little China is a fast-paced, funny, terrific action comedy with a nice supernatural angle that gives the film a nicely gonzo feel to it.  Kurt Russell is fantastic in one of his best roles, Carpenter directs things with his usual expert touch, the San Francisco locations are good and the end result is an awesome film.

Equally awesome is the Blu-ray which has all the extras from the 2001 special edition: a great commentary track from Carpenter and Russell; a gloriously cheesy music video and tons of extended scenes and outtakes plus more goodies.  It, like the movie is simply stunning.

No comments:

Post a Comment

About Me

I've been a huge fan of action, horror and comedy for as long as I can remember.