Comfortable and Furious

Big Trouble In Little China (1986)


They told Jack Burton to go to hell…and that’s exactly where he’s going!

Entire Story In Fewer Words Than Are In This Sentence:

They need girl(s), and the truck. Fuck Chinese Magic!


None. Oh, boy, we need to talk. O.K., there was a weak attempt at redemption at the end when Jack didn’t even kiss his green-eyed girl goodbye, but by then all hope was lost. It’s complicated and confusing as we had an 80’s Action duo that usually meant love at first sight, but it just didn’t work. As with all 80’s Action Movies, this was the most important category and will be the bulk of the review. Big Trouble in Little China was a miserable box-office failure for Carpenter, but is now a cult classic.

See the picture below? Kurt Russell was a ripped hunk in a wife-beater, so what went wrong? One thing is that in 1986 America might not have been ready for the American/Asian superhero duo. Russell certainly had the swagger, but he was a klutz at times and his counterpart did most of the load of the fighting. Jack and Wang (great name, however) just didn’t have that Schwarzenegger & Weathers lust that other, more conventional 80s Action movies carried.

Ultimately, however, the homoeroticism in this film was extinguished by the penis-withering heterosexual presence of the two green-eyed ladies. Instead of being bedded (or not) immediately and killed off quickly, these two women, in spite of being objectified, were put on a pedestal. Hell, even the forbidden concept of marriage was the objective of the bad guys in the movie! Gracie was in the spotlight the entire movie and that spelled big trouble for the male on male lust that we all expect in this type of action film.

Contrast Big Trouble in Little China and the female actresses with a movie like Predator. In Predator Anna (Elpidia Carrillio) was uncharacteristically in the entire movie, but was wet, bloody, muddy, kept her mouth shut, and it was suggested that she be led around on a leash! HELL YES! Again, refer to the picture below. That was not blood, that was lipstick from Jack kissing Gracie late in the movie. Unacceptable!

Corpse Count:

While we were disappointed in the homoeroticism, Big China does give us non-stop action and death. Around 90 for the body count, nicely paced throughout the movie.

Novelty Deaths:

There were many, but it is hard to overlook the obvious, one of the greatest 80’s Action deaths ever. After a great novelty death where Jack catches and throws a knife into Lo Pan’s head (“It’s all in the reflexes”), Thunder inflates himself to a ridiculous and comical caricature and then blows up gloriously.

How Bad Was it Really?

As far as the reception from the professional critics and the box office, it was terrible. In reality though, this is one of the greatest movies ever made. I mean, Kurt Russell! The action was non-stop, the script and dialogue were perfect for 80’s Action and the sets were gorgeous. Big Trouble in Little China was a film that combined the genres of Comedy, Action, Thriller, Sci-Fi, Kung-Fu, Anime, Magic and Fantasy perfectly.

The sets, costumes and attention to detail were the best you will ever see in a cheesy 80’s Action flick with more quality one-liners than you can possibly imagine. I mean, this movie is so bad that there is a reboot in the works starring none other than The Rock. What does that tell you…well, other than the remake will undoubtedly be blasphemy and suck.

Kurt Russell nailed his part as only Kurt Russell could. He perfectly combined his bullshit swagger with inept clumsiness as so clearly demonstrated in a key scene where he actually knocked himself out before the big fight, solely due to his own shenanigans. Jack Burton was the loyal buddy that we all longed to have, but we knew that he would eventually land us both in jail…or worse. His redneck “Bro” logic was perfect and you knew you would be going for a ride down a dangerous one-way street, but it doesn’t matter because…”It’s all in the reflexes”.

Was there a Stupid Chief?

No. There was absolutely no law-enforcement presence in this movie at all, except for the getaway scene at the end, but there was an unnecessary and annoying attorney in the opening scene.

gorgeous sets in Little China

Post-Mortem One Liners:

  • “It’s all in the reflexes” -Jack Burton
  • “Time to go!” (after killing everyone) -Wang Chi
  • “Son of a Bitch must pay!” (pre-mortem) -Jack Burton

More Quotes and one-liners:

  • “This is Jack Burton in the Pork Chop Express, and I’m talkin’ to whoever’s listenin’ out there.” -Jack Burton
  • “We take what we want and leave the rest, just like your salad bar.” -Egg Shen
  • “No pathetic excuses! I smell the blood of human beings; find them! Boil them until their flesh falls off. You heard me! ” -Lo Pan
  • “Which Lo Pan? Little old basket case on wheels or the ten-foot-tall roadblock? ” -Jack Burton
  • “Would you stop rubbing your body up against mine, because I can’t concentrate when you do that.” -Jack Burton
  • “Is it getting hot in here, or is it just me?” -Jack Burton
  • “And it’s going to cost, she has green eyes” -Eddie “Oh no, seriously? Oh, that’s an extra to these people. It’s like leather bucket seats, it’s double the price.” -Gracie
  • “And now, my beloved disciples. The moment of truth… the needle of love.” -Lo Pan
  • “Sooner or later I rub everyone the wrong way.” -Jack Burton
  • “Only a dream can kill a dream” -Egg Shen
  • “May the wings of liberty never lose a feather” -Jack Burton

Big Trouble in Little China (1986)

Stupid Political Content:

Considering the subject material, surprisingly and thankfully, very little.

Was there an Atomic Blast at the end?

No, but there was something that looked like it had survived Three Mile Island hiding in Jack’s truck.

What You Learned:

John Carpenter is probably one of the most under-rated and underappreciated Directors ever.



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